Recommended Fiction Titles with Autistic Characters

Recommended Fiction Titles with Autistic Characters

Grandpa in the House: A Wheel Coming Full Circle on Celebrating the Holidays

Childhood Memories Impacts A Family’s Festive Season

Around the age of 10, I began to use the holidays as an excuse to bring out my parent’s wedding china from its usual home in the cupboard.

Holidays were the loneliest days of my childhood. I knew from books and movies that families and friends often came together on holidays, seated at large tables, eating homemade meals, sharing time with loved ones from near and far. The festive feel of the season seemed to rely on a change in daily routine and seeing other people.

In my family we saw each other – my mom, my dad and me, the same as any other day. We did eat a special meal, a canned version of traditional menu items, easy to heat up and clean up from. We sat at the same table we always ate at, half of it cluttered with piles of stuff. No attempt at setting the table happened at my house unless I made the attempt myself. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa in the House: Defining “Weirdness”

Grandpa is Different.

We all have repetitive behaviors that we do to fill pauses in our day – twirling our hair, cracking our knuckles, tapping our feet, humming the latest pop song. But individuals on the Autism spectrum can do these types of behaviors more often and with more intensity. It’s called stimming.

When does “weird” happen?  I was called this often as a kid.  I dressed badly, was painfully shy, and my hair was a tangled uncombed mop.  My social skills were lacking until my late teenage years.  By then I was spending more time with peers than with my parents.  I learned from my friends how to be less weird.

But when do kids start to identify others as weird?

My son is not there yet.  I love his preschooler’s open mind.  He is completely accepting of others and differences.  It does not occur to him that others are doing something socially wrong by doing whatever comes naturally to them.  It is just what they do.

He has no clue that Grandpa is different from other grandparents.  What differences he can pick up on are based solely on age.  He knows that Grandpa is old, my husband and I are “medium” and he is young.  Grandpa has certain needs because he is old.

Except, Grandpa has always been like this. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa in the House: Asperger’s Personality Drives a Collector’s Desire

There’s a Museum in My Mailbox

Mail management becomes a challenge when the collector goes on-line and clicks!

Last weekend was one of those not so fun weekends, the kind taken up by household chores. Or specifically, one household chore: installing our new mailbox. This mailbox is not any old correspondence receptacle. It is the largest approved by the US Postal Service. Its purchase required visits to two big box home improvement stores, hours brainstorming and installing it onto a post it was too big for, and hours digging in the wet dirt on the side of a road. The digging part was my son’s favorite. It was a tad less fun for my husband.

We’d been asking my dad to buy a new mailbox for months. I even sent him a link to it online – twice. My husband assured him that he would install it. I explained that our small town post office was rarely open when I was driving by. My husband reminded him that it would be a huge help to me if he would buy the larger box. He never bought it. So we did. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa in the House: Stuck in Intergenerational Traffic

The Family Car: AKA Chauffeuring Dad While My Son is Losing It

Traffic lights- not so much the main issue anymore.

“I wish we did not have to drive so long. Can we turn around, that way, west, and go home?” My four year old is pointing behind us, back towards our house. I am impressed by his sense of direction but my joy in his new found skill is short lived. We have a shopping trip to do. We have been in the car for five minutes and he is already ready to go home. This does not bode well.

I imagine most parents with young children dread the “shopping trip.” Before becoming a parent, I was convinced that the strangers I witnessed dragging their screaming children through a store were doing something wrong. Surely they should not be subjecting their child – or the rest of us shoppers – to such torture. Read the rest of this entry »

Grandpa in the House: Parenting in a Multigenerational Home

Windows to the Past…and When to Close Them

“But the windows…the windows strike a nerve that reaches back decades.”

This past August’s cool autumnal nights resurrected a family dilemma that I had hoped would be delayed at least a month longer – the problem of the open window. I assume I am like many New Englanders in that I like my windows open, at least a crack, until the first frost. Winter is already so long and the idea of saying goodbye to fresh air in August makes me want to weep.  Though honestly, weep is an understatement – it makes me downright furious.

My father, due to his advanced age and to his sensitivity issues, cannot stand being cold.  If a cool night is predicted I will be reminded countless times in my day that the windows need to be shut that evening. I will be given the precise temperature drop to be expected the moment I walk into the kitchen in the morning.  I will be reminded that he cannot shut our windows himself due to his weakening arms. I will passive aggressively ignore these comments in hopes they will stop.  They will not. Read the rest of this entry »

HFVS Love & Social Consciousness Episode with Guest DJ, Lisa Mathews of Milkshake (Radio Show/Podcast)

Love & Social Consciousness Episode
with Guest DJ, Lisa Mathews of Milkshake


Lisa Mathews of the Grammy-nominated kid rock band Milkshake talks about love and social consciousness in this musically diverse hour. With a song list that includes Sly and the Family Stone, Billie Holiday, the Civil Wars, Adele, Lucienne Boyer and a sprinkling of Milkshake tunes from the band’s brand-new 33-song Got a Minute? CD (featuring the long-lost 13 songs written for PBS KIDS), the show is sure to reward big ears and inspire discussion.

Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
Feb 16th & 17th, 2013
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Northampton, MA

Featured video: “I Love You” Music Video: A compilation of clips from Real Look Autism, with the song “I Love You” by Milkshake. –

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  • Milkshake – “Enemies” (Great Day)
  • Beatles – “All You Need is Love” (Yellow Submarine)
  • Recess Monkey – “The Sandbox Song” (Tabby Road)
  • Lucienne Boyer – “Parlez-Moi D’Amour” (The Moderns movie Soundtrack)
  • Adriana Caselotti – “Someday My Prince Will Come” (Snow White Soundtrack)
  • Civil Wars – “Poison & Wine” (Barton Hollow)
  • Adele – “Turning Tables” (21)
  • Sly and the Family Stone – “Everyday People” (Crooklyn – Soundtrack)
  • Milkshake – featuring Alex Handy – “More Than Me” (Got a Minute?)
  • Brady Rymer – “Love Me For Who I Am” (Love Me For Who I Am)
  • Max Velthuijs/Anthea Bell – “Frog In Love” – (story)
  • Carpenters – “(They Long to Be) Close to You” – Interpretations – Carpenters
  • Johnny Cash – “Further Up the Road” (American V: A Hundred Highways)
  • Billie Holiday – “God Bless the Child” (Ken Burns’ Jazz)
  • Simon & Garfinkel – “The Sound of Silence” (Old Friends)
  • Milkshake – “Let ‘em Know” (Got a Minute)
  • 23 Skidoo –“Gotta Be You” (Make Believers)
  • Milkshake – “I Love You” (Great Day)

Mahaiwe Offers Autism-Friendly Screening of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime”

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington
Saturday, November 3rd, 2012

On Saturday, November 3rd at 2pm, the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington will offer an autism-friendly screening of London’s National Theater’s production of, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.”

This production is a theatrical adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel of the same name.  The story is told through the eyes of Christopher, a 15-year-old with autism who has a remarkable brain but finds the tasks of day-to-day life to be difficult, at best.  The show follows him through his detective work (forbidden by his father) to determine the cause of death of his neighbor’s dog, which Christopher found dead in the middle of the night.

Following this “Live in HD” encore broadcast will be a community dialogue about autism, intended to build connections between those in the autism community.  The event is open to autistic people and their families, caregivers, education specialists, clinicians, and community members who are simply interested in learning more about autism.  The show is appropriate for teenagers (13yo+), and can provide students unfamiliar with autism with a better understanding of the inner workings of the autistic mind.  For more information, call Mahaiwe at 413-528-0100 or visit on line at  Tickets are available at the box office, located at 14 Castle Street, Great Barrington, MA.

Anthologies on Parenting Kids with Special Needs

Two Groundbreaking Anthologies on Parenting Kids with Special Needs

In "My Baby Rides the Short Bus," non-conformist parents telling their subjective stories with humor and grace.

I recently received two fantastic anthologies on parenting kids with special needs to review, My Baby Rides the Short Bus and Gravity Pulls You In. Most nights since receiving these two treasures I end the day by reading a chapter or two — finding myself  choked up with tears as I read a parent’s complicated, heartbreaking story; or laughing with parents on the fringe navigating life with a special needs child.  These are stories for everyone.  Parents with special needs children will relate to the stories of these contributing writers, and community member will better understand the parenting experience of raising a child with autism, Asperger’s or other differently-abled children.


In lives where there is a new diagnosis or drama every day, the stories in My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities provide parents of “special needs” kids with a welcome chuckle, a rock to stand on, and a moment of reality held far enough from the heart to see clearly. With over 30 contributors from professional writers to novice storytellers this assortment of authentic, shared experiences from parents at the fringe of the fringes is a partial antidote to the stories that misrepresent, ridicule, and objectify disabled kids and their parents.


In 33 essays and poems in "Gravity Pulls You In," parents raising children on the autism spectrum explore their lives inthe context of autisum's own special gravity, discovering what's important and what they find centering.

Within the accounts of fierce love and keen regard for their unique children in Gravity Pulls You In: Perspectives on Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum lie moments of exceptional clarity and transformation. These pieces are sure to resonate with parents, caregivers, and anyone who’s interested in the world of autism. Their slice-of-life depictions are a refreshing departure from the usual diagnosis/grief/acceptance arc of many autism accounts, and serve as a reminder that life is lived in the many small, everyday moments.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Saturday, November 6th, 2010

There will be a reading on Saturday, November 6th, 2010, 2pm at Food for Thought Books (106 North Pleasant St.) in Amherst, MA, by contributors from both books: co-editor Jennifer Silverman and essayist Sierra-Marie Gerfao of My Baby Rides the Short Bus, and co-editor Kyra Anderson of Gravity Pulls You In.

  • Jennifer Silverman is an optimist in a pessimist’s clothing, and “mama” to two boys, one of who has autism. She lives, writes and agitates in New York City.
  • Sierra-Marie Gerfao (“Maria June”) lives in New England with her wife, their son, foster daughter, and one sweet old dog. Vocationally she serves full-time in a family ministry at a church.
  • Kyra Anderson chronicles life as a homeschooling mom and writer in New England on her blog, Her work has appeared in several small presses. Her memoir, How My Son’s Asperger’s Saved My Ass, is in progress.

Autism Speaks Video Fundraiser

The band Five for Fighting is generously donating $0.40 to Autism Speaks each time this video is viewed. The funds raised will go towards research studies to help find a cure for autism. When you have a moment, please watch this informative clip, featuring touching photos of a beloved daughter and her family.

Thank you to Shelly Bathe Lenn, for bringing this video to my attention. It is a powerful, informative video that I hope you will share with as many people as you can. Autism has affected so many children in our community. I encourage you to help bring the much needed services and therapy to these children.

Mindy Brown
Easthampton Family Center Coordinator

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