One of the toughest days of my life came when my busy, quirky adorable four-year-old twins were diagnosed with autism. We had sensed for awhile that they weren’t like typical little boys their age. They’d been very late talking. They had trouble concentrating on one activity for any length of time. They had meltdowns over strange things like the sound of a music box or anything being blown away by the wind. Despite that and my background as a special needs teacher, I wasn’t prepared to hear “the A-word” applied to my little guys. Suddenly our future seemed to darken with more scary questions than bright possibilities. Would they be able to attend school, find work or make friends? Would I have to give up my dream of becoming a published author to spend the rest of my life caring for them?
Fortunately we discovered there were programs and services available to help the boys develop to their potential. Remarkable individuals like Temple Grandin showed that autism did not have to limit their future. Almost twenty years later, the boys have both graduated high school with honours and shared the technology medal for their graduating year. One is now employed in the field of information technology and the other is enrolled in post-secondary IT program. There are still challenges, like making and keeping social connections, but in most ways the boys have surpassed my best hopes for them. I wish all families affected by autism could say the same.
But much remains to be done, particularly for individuals with more severe forms of autistic disorders. Organizations like Autism Nova Scotia provide a wealth of information, support and advocacy for those on the autistic spectrum and their families. I have been proud to support their fundraising efforts in the past. This year I am grateful to my fellow authors of RWAC who have donated a Kobo Arc e-reader loaded with copies of their digital books for the silent auction to take place at the “Eat It All For Autism” event on June 16th at Rock Bottom Brew Pub. With Scotiabank generously matching donations, I hope we will raise a nice sum to help Autism Nova Scotia continue its important, life-changing work!
For more information about Autism Nova Scotia visit: