As seen in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on 5/3/15 My son Jack turned 16 on the same day in June 2007 that a Wisconsin toddler drowned after wandering away from home. Though we never met, my heart ached for the parents whose fate I had feared. I’d worried about a number of scenarios that…

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May 30, 2014 Four years ago Time magazine included Temple Grandin in its list of 100 people who most affect our world, citing her influence as both a renowned animal scientist and an inspirational advocate for people with autism. With an award-winning HBO film depicting her life, frequent media interviews, books and speeches, Grandin, 66,…

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May 2, 2014 We were driving to the store when my typically reticent son broke the silence. “Do you regret having me?” he asked. He knew I loved him, he said, but felt responsible for my abandoning my career when he was diagnosed with autism in 1993. I responded quickly, hoping to quash his festering…

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April 4, 2014 As Autism Awareness Month gets under way, it is an apt time to honor Louise Whitbeck Fraser, a pioneer in special education whose heart for children led to new initiatives and opportunities for individuals with special needs. In the winter of 1985, Tom Balcom recounted the story of Louise Fraser in a…

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July 12, 2013 I couldn’t help but hear the conversation between two women sitting an arm’s length away. The more boisterous of the pair had spent the holiday weekend with extended family members, including her 8-year-old nephew with autism. He would not listen and would eat only pizza, she vented. I bit my tongue as…

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May 3, 2013 Patrick was a 19-year-old who didn’t have a friend to call his own. While living with his parents, he enrolled in a local community college, where he met a couple of guys who wanted to hang out. When his parents learned their son was going out for the first time, they were…

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January 18, 2013 Several years ago, I wrote an essay that was published in an anthology of works by mothers of special needs children. “Dancing with Despair” recounted the first 14 years after my son’s autism diagnosis, during which life was overrun by doctor and therapy visits, special diets and behavioral programs. Sleepless nights followed…

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April 20, 2012 If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism, the saying goes. It’s hardly a one-size-fits-all disorder. That makes it tough to understand the one in 88 people who have the diagnosis today, as compared to one in 150 in 2000. Hence efforts continue globally by individuals and…

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December 9, 2011 We know them. We are them. The people who change parents’ Depends; sit with children through chemotherapy; answer the same question from a spouse over and over. Caregivers are the bone-tired folks who attend to others’ basic needs, often while balancing family responsibilities, not to mention employment. Unpaid caregivers often step in…

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