Sunday, November 7, 2010

Giveaway and Book Review: Kim Stagliano's "All I Can Handle: I'm No Mother Teresa"

Reading Kim Stagliano's new book, "All I Can Handle: I'm No Mother Teresa" from Skyhorse Publishing is like sitting down with a cup of coffee (glass of wine?) and catching up with an old friend.  It is the perfect book to cozy up with on the sofa on a chilly day and read cover to cover (or maybe that's just because this is exactly what I did).  See the end of this post to see how you can win your own autographed copy of "All I Can Handle"!

Kim is the mother to three amazing daughters, each of whom is on the autism spectrum.   She is also the managing editor of AgeOfAutism, the online newspaper of the autism community, a HuffingtonPost contributor, and a blogger.

In her "Kimoir" (as she calls it), she shares her no-holds-barred story of raising her girls.  I sound like an overblown ad for a blockbuster movie when I say "I laughed, I cried - bring your family and friends, see (read) it again!" but that is exactly how I felt about this book. Kim's story is one of negotiating the ups and downs that life throws our way with faith, humor, and aplomb.  But, as the title says, she is no Mother Teresa.  Thank goodness!  Her story would not ring true if it was all roses and ponies.  Plus, this book would not be nearly so funny if she was a saint.  And it is laugh out loud funny!  If you cannot imagine an autism story written with humor - think again.  Without giving away too much, the image of Kim inadvertently stealing a fan from a local store after a bathroom flooding "Stagtastrophe" (her name works so well for wordplay like this!) is priceless (and hysterical!).

She shares moments of joy, such as her daughters' First Holy Communions, successful birthday parties, exciting career moves.  But she also shares challenging moments of anger, marital stress, financial difficulties, illnesses, a child lost in a vast Disney resort.  What she shares is real life.  As the parent of a child on the spectrum, her book is particularly meaningful to me but I truly believe that everyone can enjoy this book because there is so much more than autism here and the lessons of life, even when learned through the lens of autism, are applicable to so much more.

But back to autism... this book also serves as an important PSA to parents of children with autism.  It is incumbent upon us to be the best advocates we can for our children.  My heart broke and my anger swelled when Kim related her experience of a neurologist telling her that they just aren't that aggressive in treating children with autism.  I felt such anger reading this that I cannot imagine how the Staglianos felt at that moment.  This doctor was writing off a child - a child with so much potential - merely because of the label of "autism."  As so many parents know, and as so many doctors still so fail in ignorance to recognize, children with autism are sick - they have GI problems, they have seizures, they have immune system dysfunction, they have metabolic and mitochondrial disorders.  Thank you Kim for spreading that message.

So run, don't walk to your nearest bookstore or e-tailer and get a copy today.  Also, I am privileged to have an autographed copy to give away to one lucky blogreader.  Comment below, leaving your name and full email address, and I will pick a winner at random on November 15, 2010 and contact you by email.  Enter to win and feel free to share this post and spread the word.

Come meet Kim and hear her read from her book at the National Autism Association - NY Metro Chapter parent network exchange meeting this Wednesday, November 10, 2010, at the Rebecca School, 40 E. 30th St. in Manhattan (b/w Park and Madison Aves.) from 6pm-8:30pm.  Increase your chances of winning a copy of Kim's book by also visiting NAA-NY Metro's facebook page or blog!