Autism’s Parent Trap

Opinion piece in the New York Times.

At 10, my son is a far cry from the toddler who melted down when the sand was the wrong texture for drizzling. These days he embraces adventure, rides his bike, and repeats any story he tells five or six times. I remember thinking maybe we’d laugh someday at the lengths we went to when we were teaching him language — the flashcards, the drills, the repetitions. Now he’s 10 and talking at last in his own quirky ways, and we don’t laugh about the drills (though we laugh about plenty of other things). Language is a victory. So is connection and purposeful play. So are the simpler things: a full night’s sleep, a tantrum-free day.

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Thoughts on an Autistic Child’s Murder

Cammie writes periodically over at The Faster Times. Check out her posts there!

A few weeks ago a terrible story unfolded in a posh midtown Manhattan hotel where a 49-year-old mother, Gigi Jordan, was found “babbling and incoherent” beside the body of her eight-year-old son Jude, dead from an apparent overdose of ground up prescription pills, including Ambien and Xanax. Later it was…

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I Was Terrible at Talking About Autism. Now I Do Better.

Cammie writes periodically over at The Faster Times. Check out her posts there!

As a social butterfly type who obviously didn’t think through the 95% isolation aspect of writing when I chose my career as a writer of novels, book group visitations are a fabulous development. For some of us, in fact, they’re as rewarding as a paycheck: a group of friendly, literate…

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Family Dinner Was Impossible. Now It’s Pleasant. Thank You, RDI Therapy.

Cammie writes periodically over at The Faster Times. Check out her posts there!

For years, it’s been impossible to say why I insist nightly on setting out five plates and five forks and something hot in a pan that I’d be embarrassed by if any adult I wasn’t married to caught sight of. Though all research trumpets the importance of family dinners, I do sometimes wonder if these researchers actually do it themselves. These days, our dinners usually feel like a nightly gathering in which everyone thinks of new and imaginative ways to complain about the food…

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Lost and Sometimes Found: Mothering My Autistic Son

Cammie writes periodically over at The Faster Times. Check out her posts there!

If summer is a time for family reunions and visiting old friends, when you’re the parent of a child with autism, it’s also a time for taking stock and hoping to hear accolades from people who haven’t seen your child for a while:  I can’t believe how well he’s doing/how much he’s talking/how great he seems. Sadly, this summer, we haven’t heard too much of this.

All children with autism go through ups and downs.  There are phases of mysterious and surprising leaps, where you look at every supplement, every therapy and food he’s eaten to explain some new, remarkable clarity.  Then there are the phases like the one our 12-year-old, Ethan, seems to have been in most of the summer:  not dreadful, just a lot of mindless humming, lots of silence, lots of staring out windows watching other children play in our backyard…

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You’re Autistic and You’re 22? You’re Out of Luck.

Cammie writes periodically over at The Faster Times. Check out her posts there!

Back in April, National Autism Awareness month, I couldn’t help noticing in the wall-to-wall coverage (truly, did anyone make it through the month without watching Sanjay Gupta wrinkle his brow and talk about the new 1 in 150 children diagnosed figure at least once? My guess is no) was the nearly universal focus on children under the age of 8. It’s as if autism fades away (it doesn’t, trust me) and there is no adult population to be dealt with.

There is. Again, trust me.

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Hey, Jenny McCarthy: Don’t Say “Cured.”

Cammie writes periodically over at The Faster Times. Check out her posts there!

Pity poor Jenny McCarthy. All she did was cure her son’s autism by changing his diet, and then — overwhelmed by gratitude — promised God she’d testify to this miracle on every talk show she could get on and then she landed at the bottom of an Internet pile-up of raging parents whose anger seems to have taken her by surprise. ”I mean, I don’t know,” she says. ”I’m just trying to help, giving people hope.”

Quoting her verbatim is one of the problems…

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The Mystery of Autism

This article about Cammie was published in the alumni magazine of her alma mater, Kenyon College, in Fall 2006.

Cammie McGovern ’85 recently published her second novel, Eye Contact, an absorbing murder mystery in which Adam, an autistic boy, is the only witness to a child’s murder. Adam’s mother, Kara, works to unlock the mystery of her son’s autism as she tries to learn the identity of the killer. The book has been well reviewed, and film rights have been purchased by actress Julia Roberts. McGovern, the mother of an autistic boy herself, is donating a portion of the movie-rights sales and book sales to Whole Children, an after-school therapeutic play center she started along with other parents like her. Whole Children has been successful in improving the lives and development of children along the autistic spectrum.

Recently, the Bulletin had a chance to speak with McGovern about Eye Contact, autism, and the writing life.

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