Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Go ahead. Tell me what you're doing tonight.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meet Three Boys with Autism. One recovered. One close. The other working toward the goal.

For everyone who reads this blog, whether in the autism family or not, I wanted to share my friend Michele Iallonardi's amazing story with you. She was featured in the movie "Autism Everyday" as one family struggling with the astonishing day to day challenges of having a child with autism.

Michele had THREE BOYS diagnosed. I used to joke with her that we were like an autism Brady Bunch. We never did figure out which husband had to die and which divorce, my Mark or her Ralph. And now we don't have to, because one of her boys has lost his diagnosis and a second is close!

Recovery from autism is possible. It's not a given for every family who works so hard for their children. But recovery is REAL. These boys were not misdiagnosed. Nope. Here's what I ran on Age of Autism for Christmas Eve, a night of miracles.

Meet Child Warriors Luca, Jackson and Bennett, so named for Jenny McCarthy's book, Mother Warriors. Many of you know their dedicated parents, Ralph and Michele Iallonardi, and will recognize the boys from the "Autism Every Day" movie. Here's a holiday miracle that Michele wanted to share:

Luca is recovered! He officially lost his diagnosis in January 2008. He is doing incredible.

Jackson has come very far....he spoke his first word at 5 and half. Here is a link to him singing a song His little voice is beautiful.

Bennett is so close to recovery that he doesn't meet criteria for an autism diagnosis anymore. He still has support at school, but he is doing great and is a real comedian.

I know we all have more miracles in our future! I hope they arrive in 2009.
Happy holidays!

Isn't that amazing news? What are you asking Santa for this year? Ho-Ho-Hope, as our friends at NAA say.


The Online Book Tour

This post is from Galley Cat, a publishing blog. Authors are using the web to drop in on book clubs and create virtual book tours. This is perfect for shut ins like me! Wouldn't your book club LOVE to talk to the author on a phone or online webcast? Of course, that means many of you will actually have to read the book in addition to the wine bottle label (I remember my first suburban book club. Not a lot of reading!)

I plan to use technology to its fullest for my books. Lordy, hurry up '09 so I can get back to writing.

Last week, GalleyCat reported how novelists Joshua Henkin and Kelly Simmons have collectively spoken with 150 reading groups in person or by speakerphone--pioneers of the self-guided book group tour. Readers chimed in with plenty of suggestions for authors interested in created self-guided book club tours.

HERE to read the full post.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I'm Shrinking? Er, something like that!

I used to be this.

Today, I am this.

Get it?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Counting my Blessings. Paying it Forward.

So many of you have sent your thoughts, prayers and generous (amazingly generous) gifts to my family this holiday season. I am so grateful for my blessings. I am a member of a writer's organization called Backspace. One of our members lost her HOUSE in a fire this month. Can you imagine??? My flood looks like piss on the floor by comparison. Here's Linnea's story. And a link to her email if you want to help her family out.

Last Sunday our house burned down. I've lost everything including the research material I collected over the years for my first novel as well as all the research for my current wip. My son was home and saved the computer tower, my lap top and his and more importantly himself and our two dogs. Now we have to face the nightmare of dealing with the insurance company. Emergency Social Services put us up in a hotel for 72 hours and gave us a little money to buy toiletries and a few items of clothing. Fortunately we have family in town and didn't spend Christmas day in the hotel! My writing is on hold until we can get settled into a rental while we wait for the insurance people to decide whether or not they'll rebuild our house or deny our insurance claim. You never know with those guys. Although it's pretty devastating to lose everything you have, the way people have rallied around us is nothing short of miraculous. One sometimes becomes cynical about our fellow man but at times like these our care for one another shines through. All in all it's been a very happy Christmas despite our loss.

You can email an Amazon (or your choice) gift card to this email address. Small denomination, large, in between, it doesn't matter. They add up fast and Linnea can use them to rebuild her family's life. Try this link: to go right to the ecard form.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!!

To everyone who helped make us remember the true meaning of Christmas, thank you from the bottom of my Grinchy growing heart. Here are some photos so you can share in our day!
Mark's sister Lisa gave us this sign as a wedding gift. It's one of my favorite decorations.

This is an original "Elf on the Shelf!" My MIL gave me the 12 days of Christmas spoons for our dining room hutch (which was hers and my FIL's from the 1960s.)

This is the main bathroom. I like to try to put something festive in every room. That's a vintage valance and "The Night Before Christmas."

Three gorgeous girls!

The Santa Chair was a gift from a dear friend back in 1993.
I bought this Empire light up Santa from ebay this year. He's from 1968 and is a very MadMed addition to our 1964 ranch house! Kitschy? Oh yes. And I love him!

Autism. Need I say more?

Santa's landing pad. He ate ALL the cookies and took the carrots for the reindeer!

Santa brought the Elmo's Restaurant! It's already a big hit! Breakfast is served by your furry blue pal Grover! (Mia's first word was Grover. I love that muppet)
Enjoy your day!!!
Love, Kim.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Miracle on C......e Street.

To our New York City Secret Santa and caller ID blocking (you devils!) Trumbull Elves.

Thank you. I am so humbled. Merry Christmas. And thank you. Someone remind Virginia, "YES."

90 minute weather delay for school today.
No school last Friday for the storm.
3 children with autism.
1 book proposal to finish.
Articles to write.
2 blogs to run.
Major holiday to perfect.
Turn 1 year older.
Staring down the barrel of 2 unstructured weeks.
There will be hell.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Who has the greatest brother in the world? I do.

My brother Rich is an architect. He and his partner Ed live in DC. They "get" me. They really do. I love them both dearly.

And Rich and I share a retro, kitsch sensibility you just can't buy. Sometimes you have to MAKE it. Look at what he made for his home. It's a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer DIORAMA!!!!!

Note his attention to detail...

I would like to point out that if I had made this diorama (in between mopping up the flood, wiping Bella's nose, cleaning up poop, bakiing GFCF Italian Amaretti cookies, blah blah) the characters would be made from Marzipan.

In addition, my brother and Ed FED US last night by sending Maryland crab cakes as our Christmas gift. The crab reference was not lost on me, guys.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

HOW IS MARK NOT DEAD??? Last Friday, Mark walked down these stairs at 7:00am.

Unaware that THIS (mf'ing) thing had died overnight.

This was across the entire lower level.

All of the electrical items in his office were ON. And their cords were UNDER WATER.

When water meets electricity meets a human, don't people DIE?

Snow Day!
School has been cancelled all over Metro NY and NE due to the storm that's coming. I want to go back to sleep! Dad crawled back under the covers after checking his phone for the alert at 5:30am. Mia went back to sleep (God bless 14 year olds.) Gianna is eyeballing the wonderful chocolate advent calendar a dear friend sent us this week (shout out to Allie!) and Bella is clawing at my arm with her book bag and lunch box. She's had a cold and has been in and out of school with a runny nose.
The house cleanup people come Monday to fix the basement - AMEN! I'm worried about mold and mildew. We have to prepare inventory lists for insurance.

I think we'll bake some holiday goodies today. Tackle some last minute clean up. Listen to Christmas Carols and watch all the holiday specials we have on DVD. Might as well enjoy the day!
Be safe wherever you are - the storm's a comin'!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bernie Madoff: How much will we learn? Will we ever learn?

I've heard of one family, an elderly couple, who have lost everything but their home because of Bernie Madoff. 88 is elderly, right?

How does a person dupe so many intelligent people for so long. Are we really all that greedy? Lazy? Trusting?

I remember when Mark was a member of a golf club. Our lawyer was a member. So was our insurance guy. And our Merrill Lynch guy. It's the way life works - we develop relationships and trust and then work with people. We all do it. WASPS, Jews, Italians, Asians, Irish - we tend to gravitate to people whose names sound like our own, don't we?

I feel for the more average Joe's who've lost their life savings. Like the carpet salesman who had a million dollars for retirement. And it's gone.

Here's an article from GAWKER (which has totally topped Perez for me, it's more erudite and NY'y) about Madoff's Niece who married an SEC lawyer. Now there's an INSIDE job..... Ponzi Schemers Label Whoring Niece Married SEC Lawyer.
Then there's this piece from NYT's Tom Friedman:
The stranger, a Western businessman, slipped into the chair next to me at an Asia Society lunch here in Hong Kong and asked me a question that I can honestly say I’ve never been asked before: “So, just how corrupt is America?”

His question was occasioned by the arrest of the Wall Street money manager Bernard Madoff on charges of running a Ponzi scheme that bilked investors out of billions of dollars, but it wasn’t only that. It’s the whole bloody mess coming out of Wall Street — the financial center that Hong Kong moneymen had always looked up to. How could it be, they wonder, that such brand names as Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and A.I.G. could turn out to have such feet of clay? Where, they wonder, was our Securities and Exchange Commission and the high standards that we had preached to them all these years?

One of Hong Kong’s most-respected bankers, who asked not to be identified, told me that the U.S.-owned investment company where he works made a mint in the last decade cleaning up sick Asian banks. They did so by importing the best U.S. practices, particularly the principles of “know thy customers” and strict risk controls. But now, he asked, who is there to look to for exemplary leadership?

“Previously, there was America,” he said. “American investors were supposed to know better, and now America itself is in trouble.....
Read the rest HERE.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mia_14_6 Happy Birthday, Mia! (reprinted from

Meet Child Warrior Mia, so named for Jenny McCarthy's book, Mother Warriors. Mia is my oldest daughter and today is her 14th birthday.

I said "no" to all drugs during delivery. Somehow I had it in my head that I needed to keep all chemicals out of my baby's tiny system. So I took nothing. (Not even a stick to chew, although I'm not sure Mark's left arm will ever be the same.) And then the hospital pediatrician gave her a Hep B shot loaded with mercury. I didn't know. I just didn't know. Miss Mia has been a Child Warrior for over 11 years.


Happy Birthday, Mia. Love, Mom.

Kim Stagliano is Managing Editor of Age of Autism. For Mia and every child like her.

(PS) Yeah, I guess we really do look alike!

NourishinghopecovershadowWIN "NOURISHING HOPE" by Julie Matthews! If you'd like to blog this book, send me an email and I'll send you the code. Parents with kids on the spectrum need this important info to help their children. The diet can be a huge piece of the puzzle!

Win a copy of Julie Matthews' book, Nourishing Hope, Nutrition Intervention for Healing Our Children Why Diet Can Help and a Holistic Approach to Implementation.

To enter just leave a comment AT AGE OF AUTISM HERE - make sure to include your email address on the email line so that I can contact you. We'll choose the winner on Wednesday.

Nourishing Hope (visit the website HERE) provides parents of children with autism and practitioners who believe recovery is possible with the proven scientific understanding of why diet helps children heal. It comprises extensive clinical nutrition experience and intense research. Readers are given practical steps for dietary intervention and a roadmap for getting started, evolving, and customizing the varied approaches. This book is dedicated to those parents and clinicians who are relentlessly workingto help heal children and gives them reason to hope and persevere.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The girls had ONE good gift..... Splash, drip, ruined
Damn. Uncles Rich and Ed bought Mia, Gianna and Bella their one "fun" good sized Christmas gift. A Sesame Street kitchen. It was in our basement, all wrapped up in the packaging from Amazon.

It's dead... It's electronic. I'll replace it before Christmas, and I assume our insurance will cover the loss. LOLOLOL!!!! I'm a moron.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Call from the school nurse:

"Don't worry! Nothings wrong! Bella's tooth is black and the gums appear bruised."

How was your day?
A Sentence You'll Probably Never Hear from your Child's Teacher:

"(Insert child's name here) didn't get her shower today because of the lockdown."

I'll bet you feel lucky now, don't you? One of my girls has an extra weekly shower after gym to practice her self care skills. It's good! But that sentence? May you never have to read it!
How's Your Day?

5" of water in our basement - where we've stored everything. And now this email alert:

Please be advised that THS, HC and DF are under a lockdown as a precautionary measure. Trumbull police are involved; we will keep you updated.

My Mia and Gianna are at "HC."

Auto Bailout Dead.

(Thanks to HD for sending me this photo. It's kind of funny in a sick way. What a mess!)

Note: I think the management at the American car companies, mostly GM, is pathetically shortsighted, afraid, uninspired, greedy, did I mention shortsighted and should be shitcanned.

But...... the banks can have hundreds of millions of TAX PAYER dollars so they can hoard it, continue to charge usurious interest rates on loans, pay penurious rates on savings. No one outside of the Harvard PhD program in economics knows what the hell their finanical instruments actually are or do (the computers basically modeled programs no human can understand.)

The banks still aren't lending the money to consumers. You need to have the credit rating of a sultan to get a car loan, a home loan, etc.

Meanwhile, the auto industry is needing more than CPR.

WE ARE AMERICA! How the hell do we not support our last major manufacturing industry? If we have to go to a world wide war (and we may) what will we be able to make to protect ourselves? Credit card offers and french fries for the troops? I'm in CT - I used to live in Ohio - lots of car industry companies, suppliers, etc. there. But, last night I talked to a friend whose company here in CT saw sales drop 40%+ due to the auto industry. Another friend works for the company that makes the pigments for the car paints. Uh Oh.

Southern senators did not support the bailout. (Home of the Japanese auto plants.) Most Republicans did not support the bailout (do they really hate the unions so much did they suddenly find fiscal restraint?) As my husband said, "If they were voting $14B to Evangelize the nation it would have passed."

Voting "yes" were 40 Democrats, 10 Republicans and 2 independents.
Voting "no" were 4 Democrats and 31 Republicans.

Democrats Yes

Akaka, Hawaii; Bayh, Ind.; Bingaman, N.M.; Boxer, Calif.; Brown, Ohio; Byrd, W.Va.; Cantwell, Wash.; Cardin, Md.; Carper, Del.; Casey, Pa.; Clinton, N.Y.; Conrad, N.D.; Dodd, Conn.; Dorgan, N.D.; Durbin, Ill.; Feingold, Wis.; Feinstein, Calif.; Harkin, Iowa; Inouye, Hawaii; Johnson, S.D.; Klobuchar, Minn.; Kohl, Wis.; Landrieu, La.; Lautenberg, N.J.; Leahy, Vt.; Levin, Mich.; McCaskill, Mo.; Menendez, N.J.; Mikulski, Md.; Murray, Wash.; Nelson, Fla.; Nelson, Neb.; Pryor, Ark.; Reed, R.I.; Rockefeller, W.Va.; Salazar, Colo.; Schumer, N.Y.; Stabenow, Mich.; Webb, Va.; Whitehouse, R.I.

Democrats No
Baucus, Mont.; Lincoln, Ark.; Reid, Nev.; Tester, Mont.

Democrats Not Voting
Biden, Del.; Kennedy, Mass.; Kerry, Mass.; Wyden, Ore.

Republicans Yes
Bond, Mo.; Brownback, Kan.; Collins, Maine; Dole, N.C.; Domenici, N.M.; Lugar, Ind.; Snowe, Maine; Specter, Pa.; Voinovich, Ohio; Warner, Va.

Republicans No
Allard, Colo.; Barrasso, Wyo.; Bennett, Utah; Bunning, Ky.; Burr, N.C.; Chambliss, Ga.; Coburn, Okla.; Cochran, Miss.; Coleman, Minn.; Corker, Tenn.; Crapo, Idaho; DeMint, S.C.; Ensign, Nev.; Enzi, Wyo.; Grassley, Iowa; Gregg, N.H.; Hatch, Utah; Hutchison, Texas; Inhofe, Okla.; Isakson, Ga.; Kyl, Ariz.; Martinez, Fla.; McCain, Ariz.; McConnell, Ky.; Murkowski, Alaska; Roberts, Kan.; Sessions, Ala.; Shelby, Ala.; Thune, S.D.; Vitter, La.; Wicker, Miss.

Republicans Not Voting
Alexander, Tenn.; Cornyn, Texas; Craig, Idaho; Graham, S.C.; Hagel, Neb.; Smith, Ore.; Stevens, Alaska; Sununu, N.H.

Others Yes
Lieberman, Conn.; Sanders, Vt.

If HEALTHCARE were under control our auto companies, who are trying to hold up their bargain to retirees (union only, the white collar workers lost their healthcare last year) would save billions. All roads lead to healthcare. It's killing us.

You want to talk trickle down economics? Here comes a flood of unemployment friends. And if you need to sell you house next year? Try to find a family with 30% down and 750+ credit so they can get a mortgage.

Don't worry, Mark and I will save you a place in the soup kitchen line.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why did you "walk away" from Autism Speaks, Kim?Snake_puzzle_2

Katie Wright is the Daughter of AS Founders Bob and Suzanne Wright. She wrote this for

By Katie Wright

I did not want to write this piece or share this information. I was hoping the leadership at Autism Speaks would take care of this problem. For far too long Dr. Andy Shih and Ms. Alison Singer have representing only their own rigid belief systems in their roles at AS, doing whatever necessary to thwart environmental and vaccine research. In the meantime so many opportunities have been squandered and our children are paying the price.

I will not editorialize here; just give the reader the facts. Families and especially AS supporters have a right to know how their children’s interests are being represented.

1) Dr.Andy Shih, VP of Scientific Affairs, is an avowed disbeliever of vaccines as a possible trigger for autism, appeared on “Montel” a few years ago. Shih vehemently argued that vaccines are totally safe, can not and do not trigger autism and that excessive quantities of mercury are perfectly safe to inject into babies and children.

Two years ago AS leadership was excited about a Norwegian study on vaccinated children and autism and promised the study designers full support. AS expressed a desire to take the lead as a funder and facilitator of the project. Shih surreptitiously killed almost all involvement.

2) Shih’s recent comments to the media include, “this issue (vaccines and autism) has really been put to bed!” regarding a tiny Columbia study on autism, regression and GI disease on a dozen children. The study only actually included 5 children who had regressive autism and GI disease and one, indeed, had the measles virus in his gut. The CDC funded this study.

I encourage all to Google Andy Shih + vaccines and read the plethora of Shih quotes about why he believes there is no merit to studying over-vaccination as trigger for autism. Shih is most frequently quoted by pharmaceutical sites and vaccine manufacturers as “proof” of vaccines’ “disproved” relationship to autism.

3) Alison Singer is in control of all media relations for AS and sits on the very important and influential IACC, as AS’ representative. Singer has also overseen AS’ multi-million dollar website. Until recently, the website was devoid off all biomedical news and information.

Singer and Shih maintain a strong professional friendship with Paul Offit, lunching with him on AS’ dime.

4) Singer called CBS “Evening News” to complain about Sharyl Attkisson’s investigative news story on Dr. Paul Offit’s financial interests in the childhood immunization program. Singer copied Dr. Lou Cooper, her AAP ally, in this complaint letter. The CBS news piece uncovered the fact that Offit had recently sold his rota vaccine patent for $104 million dollars. This discovery was, in fact, huge news to all in the autism community.

5) The IACC group had the unique opportunity to effect powerful and innovative change in autism research at the NIH. The CAA was made possible by the hundreds of thousands of parents who supported its passage. Autism Speaks promised to do everything possible to support the promotion of environmental research, including vaccine research.

After nearly a year of work the NIH’s strategic plan is currently being boycotted by the entire community. Tom Insel has done a terrible job of the including stakeholders’ opinions and priorities, yet there was a critical juncture when the plan could have been saved. Lyn Redwood and all participating parent orgs (with the exception of miniscule org. ASA) voted for the inclusion of a number of environmental research initiatives which would have SAVED this endeavor. Alison Singer, as AS’ representative, voted against the plan.

OK- those are the facts, everything is true, now for the editorial.

The fact that Ms. Singer voted against the rest of the autism community is disgraceful. Clearly Ms. Singer cannot separate her personal beliefs from the mandate of the organization she is paid to serve. The IACC plan was an opportunity of monumental proportions and now a year’s work has been squandered, thanks to her veto.

Rather then embracing the big tent concept and building bridges with the grass roots parent run autism organizations, Shih and Singer have focused their energies on building relationships with Dr. Offit (a vaccine patent holder), Ami Pisani and her pharmaceutical organization and old school geneticists. This approach is not getting us where we need to go and gravely disappoints the families who trusted AS to be better than this. It was families, not pharmaceutical reps, who brought the tremendous pressure to bear in order to pass the CAA. Now our families’ interests have been betrayed by the rigid ideological beliefs of one person who would rather see the CAA fail than encompass vaccine research.

Instead of building alliances with family based orgs like the National Autism Association, Ms. Singer’s efforts have been focused on aiding Dr. Paul Offit. Autism Speaks’ PR needed to allow Dr. Offit to take care of himself, he has certainly got the financial resources to do so. Autism Speaks should have been championing the trend of greater financial transparency in autism and vaccine science. Instead, Ms. Singer was so upset by the criticism of Dr. Offit that she called CBS news to complain about the piece. This bizarre behavior is another complete betrayal of our families’ interests and serves to further illustrate the deeply ingrained beliefs and prejudices that do a deep disservice to our families.

I do not have the time to detail the myriad of instances in which Autism Speaks PR and Rubenstein associates, worked over-time to kill or diminish stories about biomedical news. Suffice it to say it is a sad and lengthy list. We need more open debate and discussion, not less.

AS PR and AS science need not fear open discussions of the vaccine issue, what they should fear is colluding with the CDC in behaving as if parents’ voices do not matter, regressions inconsequential, GI disease insignificant, adverse vaccine reactions non-existent, all successful biomedical interventions aberrations. I may well incorrect about many things but we can never be wrong in asking questions- questions our families want asked.

Mark Roithmayr and Dr. Geri Dawson have been made well aware of Shih and Singer’s serious lapses in judgment and failure to fully represent the community. Mr. Roithmayr appears to want to ignore this situation and its adverse consequences for our children. Maybe the parents who worked so hard to pass the CAA should ask him why?

Why I Do No "Walk For Autism"

Managing Editor's note: You can email Mark Roithmayr at

Katie Wright has two young boys. Her oldest son, Christian, is severely affected by autism. He developed normally; smiling, talking, walking; only to lose every skill and every word by the age of 2 and a half. Upon the advice of medical professionals Katie and her husband were advised to pursue only high quality behavioral therapy, speech and OT for Christian. It had no meaningful impact on Christian until his parents sought help from DAN! doctors who treated the underlying causes of Christian's descent into autism. Christian has improved but still has far to go. He has Inflammatory Bowel Disease, the measles virus in his gut and an immune system akin to a late stage AIDS patient. Christian does not have a psychiatric disorder. Before autism, Katie Wright was the Clinical Director of Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Stamford Connecticut. Katie is proud to serve on the Boards of NAA and SafeMinds.

Why I am Proud to Work with David Kirby (DK is a founding contributor to Huffington Post and Age of Autism and author of Evidence of Harm. This piece is running on AofA today.)

Purple_heart By David Kirby

I often receive letters from parents of children with autism, from all over the world. They are moving, gratifying, and powerful. They keep me going.

Yesterday, I received a letter that I will never forget. It was from a Captain in the U.S. Army, who has risked his life in the name of his country. He also has three sons on the autism spectrum, and he blames vaccines.

"To be honest, the vast majority of military families dealing with autism that I know, think that vaccines are the cause," Capt. Joe Mickley told me in a phone interview. "And those include some people of very high rank in the military."

One colleague had a son born in the same military hospital, at the same time, as his own, youngest son – the most severely affected of his three children. The two boys both developed normally together, and then began to regress at roughly the same time, Capt. Mickley said, eventually developing the same symptoms and signs of autism.

He told me that the parents of that child recently bought Jenny McCarthy's book, "Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism," and, within a week and a half of starting chelation therapy and other biomedical treatments, "that child started recovering. He started speaking again."

This is not the last that we will be hearing from Captain Mickley. He and many other military families are getting ready to come forward and tell their stories en-masse.

It's easy to dismiss and ridicule me (and it is part of my job description, so I don't really care). It's more difficult to do so to a battle hardened Army Captain. Yes, people will try. But I don't envy them.

Here then, is Captain Mickley's letter to me. Anyone wishing to contact him should email Angela Warner HERE. Please include CAPTAIN MICKLEY in the subject line. Angela runs the blog Autism Salutes, she will forward the letters to him.


Mr. Kirby

I just wanted to write you a quick note to thank you for the work that you are doing toward uncovering what is happening to our children, more specifically the work that you have done for military families. I am a Captain in the United States Army, with 11 years of dedicated service to the nation.

I have recently become disheartened with how autism is being dealt with in the military. I am the proud father of three young boys whom all enjoy a spot on the spectrum. I read on your site and others that the military has a very high rate of dependents on the spectrum, although I would swear to you that six months ago, when autism first exposed itself in my family, my wife and I felt like we were the first family to go through this, and over the recent months I have met others whose stories are almost identical to ours. You have helped me realize that we are not alone and that something is going on to trigger what equates to be brain damage, instead of what I thought was autism.

Sir, as I follow your words it inspires me to gather together the members of the families who have gone through the same hell as mine. To let our voice be heard so that action has to be taken. I and others like me would like accountability why we lost our children. I have video of my son months prior to the vaccines that I believe triggered his withdrawal. He is engaged, alert, talkative and happy.

Following the shots, he began a steady withdrawal and decline. The most painful part was that we watched him slip away, and before I knew it, he was not the same. We also have doctors' records documenting our concerns as well as a military doctor's summary stating that our concerns were more than likely unfounded.

After visiting that doctor, we fought for more than seven months through more red tape than anything I had experienced in ten years of service to obtain a diagnosis. Little did I know that this would just be the beginning of our battle to save our boys.

As a Soldier and combat veteran of multiple tours I have fought against our nation's enemies. I have seen the dark side of humanity and survived it. That experience pales in comparison to the horror of watching your child suffer a regression.

Again sir, I thank you and hope that you may never grow tired in your efforts, because my family and many others count on you.

Captain Joe Mickley
United States Army

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Kim Stagliano now on Betty Confidential!

I've been a bad blog mother. I know it. I'm up to my eyeballs in Age of Autism, book stuff, kids, life, the holidays, and more. I've been neglecting the Kim blog. I took on an assignment for a wonderful magazine called Spectrum that targets the autism world. I'll be writing for another wonderful magazine called Autism File at some point too.

I'm trying to find new writing opportunities to expand my world and stretch my writing abilities. I need to grow. I've felt kind of stale and stagnant. Yuck. Blog writing style is different from book writing. Blogging is like eating candy for me. Munch crunch swallow. Books and even articles are a meal. Plan, savor, hope you don't barf all over your shoes.

And of course, Mark's job situation has added say, numbers three or four to the one two punch we call day to day life. My stress called out sick this morning and took a stress day.

So... I report HAPPILY that I'm now writing for Betty Confidential! Thanks to my friend Steph of Manic Mommy for interviewing me last month on Betty Confidential. The editors at Betty (look at me all colloquial!) liked my story (sob story?) and invited me to join them. I'm tickled pink!

You can read my first piece The Paper Mitten Family at Betty now.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

My Favorite Store

I was born about 20 years too late. I really should have been a child of the 1940's and 1950s. But do I despair? (Every minute of every day, but not about being too young.) No - instead I savor the pages and website of Vermont Country Store. Check it out. All sorts of childhood favorite foods, toys, home items, decorations and more. Whether you were a child in 1922, 1972 or 2002.

Someday, I hope to take a trip to Vermont to visit the store in person.

Friday, December 05, 2008

New Autism Affinity Flag For Sale!

Mark used to work for the company that created this flag. In fact, I pulled the project together while he was with them and then, well, you know what happened with that job. Oops!

But I LOVE the flag and hope you do too! We're selling them through my Age of Autism site. Details below:

Autism_flagOne of the largest decorative flag manufacturers in the country has designed the first Autism Affinity Flag, with a portion of the proceeds going to National Autism Association. The background reads: "Autism One in 150" in yellow, blue and red.

28" x 44" (fits on a flag pole attached to your house): $24.99

11.5" x 18" (fits on a garden sized holder): $14.99

Shipping is free within the Continental US. Hardware is available at home and garden stores and mass merchants. Flag_ad_001_2To order:

Send me an email at with the size(s) you want, the quantity and shipping address.
I'll email you your amount due to confirm your order and then you can pay us through the PayPal Donate button on the Age of Autism site.

If you're interested in a wholesale order through the vendor for your organization, contact me and I'll connect you with the manufacturer.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

File under Ron Popeil.
Alas, the budget doesn't allow for such luxurious gifts this year. Count your lucky stars, family and friends.

Dollars to donuts you can't guess what they are....

Monday, December 01, 2008

Three Degrees of Separation from Mad Men's Don Draper.

Do you watch AMC's Mad Men? It's about advertising men (and "girls" in the early/mid-1960's) on Madison Avenue, in NY - the heart of American advertising. Mark and I are utterly hooked. It's replaced the now off air Sopranos in our limited TV repertoire.

The Tony Soprano of Mad Men is a character named Don Draper. He's a family man. A cheating husband. A lying WWII veteran ( I won't spoil the story by telling you just how much of a liar he is.) A chain smoker (they all are, cigarettes are a main character in the series.) And a thirsty drinker, rarely without a cocktail (never a beer) in his hands at work or at play. He's' played by John Hamm to full-handsome-cad perfection.
When I tell you I ADORE this program, I mean I adoooore it. The sets, the clothes, the storylines, the writing, the characters, the advertising (I went into advertising straight out of college and always loved it) the NY setting, everything. And I, like many viewers, have a thing for Don Draper.

I am now just three degrees from Don Draper. How, you ask, does a suburban autism Mom find herself within fainting distance of Sterling Cooper Advertising's star performer? A woman who spends most of her time cleaning, swabbing, typing and cooking? A women who is a hair away from having her weekly Communion delivered to her house by her priest? How on earth is she a mere three degrees from Don Draper? I'll tell you. My agent. Who looks alot like this:

He called me today to provide moral support, make sure I hadn't kissed a tailpipe given the current economic downturn chez Stagliano (which he pronounces with a perfect Italian "Stah-lee-ah-no") and generally to check in on my progress on a work in mostly sort of kind of progress. As he told me about his holiday (to die for, but I won't divulge his secrets) he mentioned he'd signed a new client, and was very excited. It like this, as I was in Target, that bastion of style and Fifth Avenue chic.....

"I have a new client named Bryan Batt." DING! DING! DING! went the OMG bells. Salvatore Romano!" I howled with delight. "Sal from Mad Men!"

He's every bit as handsome as Don Draper - and almost as secretive. Sal is a gay man in the early 1960s, which means closeted. Bryan portrays Sal with a perfect blend of snark, sadness and pride. Bryan is also a designer and will be writing a book, represented by my agent. SQUEEEEE! You can read a terrific interview with him HERE.

So from me, to my agent to Bryan to DON DRAPER. Three degrees my friends.

If you don't watch Mad Men I suggest you buy someone you love the DVD's for the holidays. Click Here to Purchase.

You can see Bryan in this quick clip.