THE ROADMAP

Stories about anticipating, planning for and navigating life’s twists, turns, tragedies, and triumphs.

A Generation Accustomed to Adding Learns to Subtract

A Generation Accustomed to Adding Learns to Subtract

December 25, 2008 When we visited our son with autism over parents’ weekend this fall, he hugged his dad, then handed him a list of 24 items he would like for Christmas. He lives a cloistered lifestyle at a remote, old-fashioned school that has no Internet or TV, where they play Wiffle ball and parlor…

An Effort to Balance Competing (and Compelling) Interests

An Effort to Balance Competing (and Compelling) Interests

December 11, 2008 “I would rather be in a gunfight than have to watch my grandson go through what he is going through.” This statement expressed the sentiments of many at a November meeting of the Minnesota Autism Task Force. The state-Senate-appointed panel is investigating the causes and statewide incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)…

Drearies Begone, There’s Wonder in the World

Drearies Begone, There’s Wonder in the World

November 22, 2008 It’s that time of year, when the drearies materialize after a strong wind blows in, whisking colorful leaves off the trees and ushering in gray skies for a long, and most unwelcome, stay. This year, it is especially difficult to fight the November blues, particularly if I’ve indulged my news-junkie tendencies and…

Pushing Back Against Labels and Narrow Lines

Pushing Back Against Labels and Narrow Lines

November 2, 2008 Recently, I was honored to receive the 2008 Community Media Excellence Award from .  Arc of Minnesota. During the awards program, a group of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities performed a skit that railed against the ‘r word.’ Their provocative, take-away message: We’re pushing back against a demeaning and demoralizing label…

An Advocate for the Special Needs Population

An Advocate for the Special Needs Population

October 15, 2008 The past few weeks I’ve watched politicians point fingers and craft hasty (and unsuccessful) solutions to a global economic fiasco.  I’ve now lost more than money.  I’ve lost confidence in the integrity of our leaders, as well as their willingness to address difficult problems before they devolve into a crisis. For some…

The Olympics:  Family-Friendly TV

The Olympics: Family-Friendly TV

August 24, 2008 As summer comes to a halt, so does the best TV entertainment I’ve seen in years. The Olympics coverage is family-friendly reality TV, complete with accusations about the Chinese fudging on gymnasts’ ages and breath-taking athleticism in too many sports to mention. For a couple of weeks, it’s been refreshing to watch…

A Teenage Sister’s Struggle

A Teenage Sister’s Struggle

August 19, 2008 It was a difficult summer. After nine months at boarding school, our 17-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) returned for a 12- week break. While he was thrilled to be home, our 14- year-old-daughter was distressed when the brother who absorbed so much of our attention settled back into his old…

Time for a Cohesive Message

Time for a Cohesive Message

July 30, 2008 Recently, national radio talk show host Michael Savage caused an uproar when he called autism a ‘racket,’ the ‘illness du jour’ and a ‘fraud.’ Parents and professionals reacted by suggesting that he be ignored and that he be fired. I was not surprised by the conflicting reactions. This is, after all, the…

Tony Snow: One of the Good Guys

Tony Snow: One of the Good Guys

July 16, 2008 The phone rang early on Saturday morning, waking me from a restless sleep. Friday ended with concerns about our daughter being at a western Wisconsin lake that was potentially in the path of a tornado. So when I answered the phone and heard my brother say, from 1,500 miles east, that he…

Putting Embarrassment in its Place

Putting Embarrassment in its Place

June 25, 2008 Last week, the Pioneer Press featured an article by John Campanelli with the headline: “Truth? They dare.” Campanelli wrote that one of the terrible things about being a parent is “like it or not, your young kids are going to embarrass you.” He noted that when kids are young we tolerate their…

Autism, Church and the Social Contract

Autism, Church and the Social Contract

May 25, 2008 I’ve been following, with much dismay, the media reports and Internet blogging about the parents from Bertha, Minnesota, who were repeatedly asked, then finally ordered, by the court, not to bring their son with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to St. Joseph’s Church. According to documents filed by the church in support of…

Mom’s Most Valuable Lesson: Life isn’t Fair

Mom’s Most Valuable Lesson: Life isn’t Fair

May 11, 2008 I won’t be taking my mom to brunch or sending her flowers on this Mother’s Day, for I lost her years before I became a mother myself. In years past I’ve been melancholic on this day, as I’ve brooded over how much I’ve needed her in my life, feeling cheated by the…