Can you introduce our community members to your family and tell them about your new book? What’s it about and how did it come to be? Were you a writer before having your girls?
Hi, I’m Kim Stagliano, wife, Mom, writer, tired. My husband and I have three gorgeous girls – who have autism. Kind of impossible, considering autism affects boys 4:1 over girls. Mark and I have learned that impossible is often inescapable though. My book is humorous look at a life that has been anything but ordinary or easy – and yet is full of laughter, joy and love.
I promise, you won’t need a Prozac to read it.
I’m Managing Editor of www.ageofautism.com, the nation’s first daily web newspaper about the autism epidemic. I write for The Huffington Post, The Debutante Ball, The Dallas Morning News Moms Blog and am on the editorial staff of the Autism File Magazine. I speak at national autism conferences, and have appeared on Good Morning America (with the kids!), ABC News, Fox News, in The Chicago Tribune, The National Catholic Register and on blogs around the world.
I was in sales, marketing and advertising (on the account side, not the Don Draper creative side) before I began writing.
Mark and I live in CT with Mia, Gianna and Bella.
How do you juggle your very busy writing life with your family life? What sacrifices have you had to make and what sacrifices do you refuse to make?
I’m fortunate to be able to work from home and they girls are in school. I write when the house is quiet. I tend to my blog, approve comments on Age of Autism, read emails throughout the day from about 5:40am until 9pm at night. My computer is in the eat-in area off my kitchen so I can pop in and out all day without having to leave the girls.
You are very much an activist in your writing work. What have been your greatest professional accomplishments around autism activism? What do you still hope to achieve?
My proudest moments come when another Mom or Dad says, “Thank you, Kim, for saying what I feel and making me feel less alone.” Hands down, those are the best moments. I hope to continue to give people hope and cyber-friendship and to make them laugh. I say at the close of my book, “None of us is Mother Teresa and Lord knows we have all we can handle.” Laughter helps me get through the tough moments. I hope my book does the same for readers.
Age of Autism is unafraid of heading into the fray and confronting the big controversies around autism. Can you speak a little bit about the publication’s philosophies around tackling these hard issues and also how you cope with the inevitable fall out in comments and other blog entries?
I write about that in the book. It’s not easy to develop a thick skin. But as long as I stand behind my words, I know that not everyone will like or love me or agree with me. I’m OK with that. I hope I can at least make people think – even if they think, “Lord, she ‘s a jerk!”
What have you see changed in the past few years that you’ve been writing about autism? And what do you see coming up next? Where do you see autism activism headed?
I see the mainstream community learning that parents of special needs kids deserve an extra hug, a bit of empathy (not necessarily sympathy) and concrete help, in terms of school, respite, community involvement. I love that. Next will be the onslaught of teens on the spectrum aging out of the school system and into…. what? With the leading edge of the epidemic having been born in the early 1990s, schools and families have borne the financial, emotional and physical brunt of caring for the children. At 22, they age out of school and into state programs, which are wholly insufficient. I’m rather fearful of what’s coming in the near term unless we have far more programs available across the nation. Given the state of politics and the economy, I don’t feel confident we’ll have a steady stream of choices for families anytime soon. I think autism activism will focus on two areas: the Alpha and the Omega. Prevention (what is causing the epidemic) and adult-life issues.
What advice would you have for a parent of a child with any kind of special needs who is struggling with making sense of information coming from all sorts of experts? How do parents figure out who to listen to and where to go for help?
I always say “Trust your gut.” A parent knows what feels appropriate for his/her child. And knows her child better than anyone else, doctors included. Also, don’t act out of fear. Like with the quandary of vaccinations, that third rail topic. Some parents know with certainty their child had a vaccine reaction, and so they can not in good conscience, continue vaccination. Other parents whose kids may have a different set of health issues feel strongly that every vaccine helps them keep their child safe, and so they proceed with the schedule, afraid not to do so. Making decisions from a position that lets you sleep at night has worked well for me. As parents, we don’t have to agree on the decision to be able to support one another.
We are giving away a signed copy of Kim’s book! To win, just comment below and let us know you want it — we’ll pick a member at random and announce it next Friday at the end of our Rody Week!