THE ROADMAP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

On a Three-Legged Walk

As seen in the St. Paul Pioneer Press April 28, 2008 I was walking with an old friend recently when the conversation turned to the challenges we both faced in our households. I had angst about what the future holds for my teen-age son with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She was worried about the future…

An Epidemic, a Vacuum and an Opportunity

March 26, 2008 The federal compensation court settlement of Hannah Poling’s autism/vaccine claim has shined a spotlight on an emotionally charged controversy within the autism world. Since our son’s autism diagnosis, I’ve sat on the sidelines of this rabid dispute, deliberately focusing on the fix, not the culprit. In the wake of the Poling settlement,…

The Silver Lining in a Cloud of Contrast

February 28, 2008 Over Sunday morning coffee I read about Bridget Tierney, the Stillwater physician’s assistant who, late in 2006, told friends and co-workers that she had first breast, then brain cancer. For about a year she convincingly lived the lie. Since cancer took both my parents and threatened my life, this story hit me…

Such Progress, So Quickly, Makes a Parent Wonder

November 20, 2007 Last spring, I had a troubling conversation with my adolescent son who is on the autism spectrum. He had taken a mainstream class for the first time in years, having been in mostly small special education classes since third grade. I asked him which classroom felt right for him. “The kids in…