Broadway Magic: TDF's Autism Theater Initiative

If you’re a theater lover like me, it’s likely you remember the first play or musical you ever saw.

Mine was a community theater production of “The Princess and the Pea” that my grandmother took my sister and me to see (I was 4 and she was 6). I still can recall holding my grandmother’s hand when the theater lights went down and the magic of watching the actors bring the story to life. The Princess was funny! My grandmother was proud of how my sister and I sat still and watched. She, as well as my parents, took us to see live theater throughout  our childhood.

At a recent TDF Autism-Friendly Production. Courtesy of TDF

5 Reasons That This Autism Mom Backs Hillary Clinton (With 100% Conviction)

There is so much at stake for our country on November 8th—and for me, as a mom of a thirteen-year-old son with severe autism and intellectual disabilities, I will enter the voting booth knowing that the outcome of this election affects the policy that will be in place when my son transitions from the protection of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act that will last through age 21 to the time when he becomes an adult in need of housing, job coaching and ongoing therapy supports that are not mandated by a national law. In Pennsylvania, where we live, there is currently a waiting list of over 13,000 people with intellectual disabilities in our state who need supports. While we push our son to learn as many life skills as possible, it is also clear that he will need supports for his entire life. While my husband and I are pro-active about planning for our son’s future, we are also keenly aware that we need public policy that honors the dignity of and provides supports for people with disabilities in order for our son to have the meaningful life that we dream of for him.

 The author with her daughter and sister-in-law at her local Clinton campaign office. Courtesy of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

When The School Bus Stops Coming: "Falling Off A Cliff"

I have feared the day the school bus stops coming for my son Noah for so long that I’m not sure I recall a time when that fear didn’t dog me. In fact, it feels as if I’ve held onto that fear as long as I’ve held onto him. The day is now officially a year away, since Noah started his last year of high school September 1, 2016. 

I recall vividly, with each of my kids, the promise embedded in each first day of school. I picked out their clothes, put little backpacks with some favorite character emblazoned on it over their shoulders, and walked with them to pre-school. Then I brought them to the bus stop for their first day of kindergarten. Everything felt so full of hope. One son graduated from college a year ago. My daughter just started her junior year of high school. Noah will finish his sixth year of high school this year and then go off a cliff.

The author's son, Noah. Courtesy of Nina Mogilnik

Autism And Dentistry: A Guide To Making Appointments Easier

Now that the summer has come to an end, it is time for parents to think about the fall season, back to school, and catching up on doctors and dentist check-up appointments. Visiting the dentist can be a frightening sensory experience for some children with autism. Here are some tips when taking your child with autism to the dentist.

Autism. Courtesy of Fotalia

Experience What Autism Might Feel Like Through Video

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared at


The Cherokee tribe of Native Americans had a well-known proverb stating that you “shouldn’t judge a person before you have walked a mile in their shoes”. It’s practical advice to view a situation from the perspective of another before rendering an opinion. One can see how this type of thinking can lead to greater compassion and understanding of those around us.


But how can one really experience the perspective of another? It’s certainly easier said than done. Consider the case of individuals with autism. These days almost everyone has heard of autism or autism spectrum disorders (ASD), both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development.

Registering Our Son To Vote: Disability, Standing Up And Election 2016

This has been a grueling political season, full of rancor and too much ugliness to catalogue.  Some days, I just want to hide under the covers and pretend it’s all a bad dream. But then I think about my children. 

Having children is, at least for me, the ultimate act of cockeyed optimism. There are so many reasons to be fearful of bringing children into the world, of exposing them to the awfulness to which human beings can lower themselves. But then of course there is the profound, unparalleled opportunity to try to shape another human being by the values and beliefs you hold dear, and that is in many ways irresistible. Not to mention sometimes just flat out joyous fun.

The author's family. Courtesy of Nina Mogilnik

I Do Not Grieve For My Son's Disability

Editor's Note: This blog originally appeared on newsworks.

It's been over a decade since my son George, 13, was diagnosed with autism, which means that it's been that long that I've been a member of a certain tribe: that of special needs parents.

Through the ups and downs of the challenges that my husband and I have faced coming to understand how best to meet our son's needs, I've met, shared with, laughed and cried with so many resilient, insightful, spiritual, funny parents who are doing what I'm doing—extreme parenting with no road map, taking life not one day, but one hour and sometimes one minute at a time.

Despite the intensity of the experience, many, though certainly not all, of us live with a sense of purpose and even a sense of peace.

The author with her son, George. Courtesy of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Hands Up, Don't Shoot

Editor's Note: If you are following the disturbing story of the shooting of an unarmed therapist trying to help his autistic client by a Miami police officer, there has been an update over the weekend in which the officer has confessed that the bullet was actually intended for the man with autism sitting in the road with his toy truck.

I woke up one recent July morning, and I wept. As per my usual habit, I checked the news shortly after getting up. The first story I landed on was about a Miami police officer shooting the caretaker of a young autistic man who had wandered away from his center, and whom the caretaker had gone after to bring back. There’s no mystery here about the circumstances of the shooting, no reason to parse the police version of the story vs. the victim’s story. There’s just this:  a black man lying on his back, his empty hands up behind his head, and his autistic charge sitting nearby, playing with his toy truck. If you don’t believe me, here it is: 

I was completely rattled by this story.

Therapist Charles Kinsey was shot by a North Miami police officer. Courtesy of NBC

Review: 'The A Word' Is An Authentic Window Into Autism

It was Benjamin’s fifth birthday party. We had dozens of friends and family coming to our home to celebrate with him. The details of the party had been planned for weeks, and Benjamin had been looking forward to the day. Everything was going according to plan. Until it wasn’t. A relative had walked into the party and approached Benjamin for a hug. He recoiled from her touch and, screaming, ran to seek solace in his bedroom. Where he remained for the remainder of his party.  

The premiere episode of "The A Word," a British import on the Sundance Channel — and based on an Israeli drama — opens with the birthday party of five-year-old Joe. And like my son, Joe’s party is interrupted by behaviors that appear to be caused by the overstimulation that often occurs for those on the autism spectrum.

'The A Word' takes an unwavering look into the world of a family grappling  autism. Courtesy of Sundance TV

10 Ways To Be An Advocate For Your Child With Disabilities

Editor's Note: Liane Carter's list of her ten ways to be an advocate are instructive for parents raising children with disabilities all year long.

Jewish Book Council. Courtesy of The Jewish Book Council
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