1. What inspired you to write What I Wish I'd Known About Raising a Child With Autism?
Bobbi's Answer: I wrote the book during the first five years of my daughter's life, when the symptoms of her autism were baffling and often hazardous. We were brushed off by the pediatricians as she leapt from high places, didn't potty train, seemed to feel no pain, didn't begin talking (and then began talking in a very unusual way), and didn't engage with other kids. When she was three and a half and we finally got a diagnosis and began to make some progress and learn to accommodate her. About a year later, I jokingly said to her psychologist, Dr. DeOrnellas, "We should write a book!" I had researched as much as I could, looking for a book to guide me through the just-before and just-after diagnosis time, when I was scared and needed information and guidance. Since I couldn't find one, I wrote it. We surveyed two dozen families about everything from getting the diagnosis to dealing with meltdowns in public, and included their advice as well. More than once, I've had a mom purchase a half-dozen copies of the book for her child's teachers and extended family. I find that very gratifying, because we all have a life to live and a family to enjoy, and I'm happy that we can light the way for some of the difficult parts.
2. What was it like getting your daughter's diagnosis? How did your family react?
By the time we got a diagnosis, we had considered every possibility, and it was more of a validation than a surprise.
Turns out she's not the only member of our family on the autism spectrum -- the strategies and tools we've gained along the way have helped with all of our relationships.
As for our extended family, the best response was, "Oh, thank God, I hoped you knew!"
3. What is the most inspirational thing about raising a child with Autism?
Having autism in our family has forced us to simplify and slow down, which has been good for all of us. It's also wonderful to see the world through her eyes. She sees and appreciates details that we would miss, and there are lots of funny -- and sometimes awkward moments. Just this morning, she wouldn't stop petting the grocer's feather duster as I was checking out. That was both funny and awkward, because the duster was sticking out of the back pocket of his jeans!
4. What is the next chapter in your writing? your life?
I can't wait to find out! Ha! I'm busy with my four kids and my husband, and there's never a dull moment. My first TV appearance, on Life Plus Homeschooling, will air in April 2012.
This year, I became the cohost, along with the amazing Amalia Starr, of Autism As They Grow on Special Needs Talk Radio. http://talkingspecialneeds.com/raising-asd-kids-teens I always wanted to be a writer, and I was surprised when Marianne Russo approached me about joining her team of hosts, but I commend her for taking a chance on me, and we are getting great feedback. Having a child with autism can be very isolating, and parents are telling us that the radio show makes them laugh and learn.
I'll be contributing to books by Wayne Gilpin and Carol Stock Kranowitz this year, and I am now a columnist for SI Digest magazine. I also have two articles coming out in Autism Asperger's Digest, and I am at work on another book with Dr. DeOrnellas and Jenny Herman.
5. And completely off topic, but I ask all my guests to tell me who you would invite to a dinner party (4 people, real or fictional, alive or dead ), and what you would serve?
Bobbi's Answer: I love this question!
I love food and I love to plan parties.
How can I narrow it down to four? My husband, the Most Interesting Man in the World, dissuaded me from listing him as a guest on the assumption that he'd be a cohost, so the four guests would be:
Jesus Christ, Anne Frank, Abraham Lincoln and Cornelius Sheahan, my late father-in-law, because he passed away before I had a chance to meet him, and I'd like to thank him for a few things.
As for the menu, since this is a fantasy, we'd spring for a chef who could make custom meals based on people's preferences. Plus, I have no idea what Jesus would like to eat.
A little more about Bobbi - Bobbi Sheahan is co-author of What I Wish I'd Known about Raising a Child with Autism: A Mom and a Psychologist Offer Heartfelt Guidance for the First Five Years (Future Horizons, 2011). Bobbi is also the cohost of Autism As They Grow radio show, which broadcasts live on Wednesday nights, 9:30 Eastern/6:30 Pacific at www.talkingspecialneeds.com. She is a regular columnist for SI Digest Magazine and a frequent contributor to Autism Asperger's Digest Magazine. Bobbi’s website is www.bobbisheahan.com, and she would love to connect with you on Facebook or Twitter (@BobbiSheahan)
About What I Wish I'd Known about Raising a Child with Autism:
Bobbi Sheahan, mother of a child with autism, and psychologist Kathy DeOrnellas, Ph.D., did not write this book to lecture you on how to parent your child. Instead, they offer themselves as your scouts in the field, who have valuable information to share—from the moment you realize your kid is different ("My, what a quiet baby I have!"), to the self-righteous moms on the playground, to holding your marriage together in the realm of routines.
They candidly tackle ASD issues such as:
- Picky Eating
- Bedtime Battles
- Potty Training
- Speech Delays
- Early Intervention
- Sibling Rivalry
- And much more!
Thank you again for agreeing to this interview! Readers, if you have questions or comments please leave one in the comments section here and I will make sure that they get forwarded!