“When Christmas is just too much”
The Washington Post 12/18/17
At Christmastime in our house, the Holiday Prohibitions go into effect. Recently, I made the mistake of meekly testing a rule, almost whispering, “Hark the herald angels sing / Glory to the . . . ”
“No newborn king today!” my 32-year-old autistic son shouts from across the living room, smiling but wary.
“A doctor said my son had ‘no hope.’ At 30, he doesn’t let autism hold him back.”
The Washington Post, 5/16/16
Recently a momentous, fabulous, electrifying thing happened.
My son, my wife and I got into the car, and she asked him, as she always does, where he would like to go.
“No idea,” he said.
No idea!? Ellen and I sat up in our seats. Our spirits rose like party balloons. No idea! We burst out laughing and Walker smiled like a stand-up comedian who had just landed a joke.
“Starbucks’ Grande Comfort for My Autistic Son”
Chicago Tribune, 2/15/16
My son and I stroll through the doors of Starbucks looking every inch like a TV commercial for the place. Walker, a tall, handsome, smiling 30-year-old, leads me, his aging boomer father with shaky knees, like a star actor assisting the elderly. We look, I think, like some Madison Avenue-produced, one-minute scenario of father-son bonding. For the first five seconds of the ad, you feel some predictable tag line coming as in the old beer commercial, “Life doesn’t get any better than this.”
“Empathy and Autism: Can My Boy Connect?”
Chicago Parent, 9/9/09
What groups of people are most notorious for their lack of empathy? Racists? Terrorists? Religious fanatics? A new scientific theory adds another group to this list: people with autism.
“What Autism Means to a Father”
Chicago Tribune, 5/11/08
Knowing that I have a 21-year-old son with autism, a colleague turned to me to learn the meaning of the latest statistics on autistic births. “What does this number, 1 in 150 births, really mean?” my friend asked…
“Never give in. Never…”
Chicago Tribune, 8/13/06
I caught a story on the news recently about a boy with autism who, amazingly, has mastered karate. Not too long ago, that same channel presented a story about an autistic basketball prodigy. Next week—write this down—some program will stun the world with an autistic spelling bee champion…
“Raising Autistic Child Seems Like a Juggling Act”
Chicago Tribune, 12/24/06
“Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of the things that May be only?” Ebenezer Scrooge asks the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Surely fans of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” find this scene the scariest in the story. It touches twin nerve endings: our fear of the future and our dread of death.
“When Autism Hits Home”
ELITE, November, 2005
The term “autism,”a new one for me, was in bold print, but this wasn’t enough to catch my eye. My eye was hard to catch at 1 a.m. that morning in 1970 as I read my college Introduction to Psychology text for the first time before the final exam.
“Talking the Talk With My Son”
ELITE, June, 2005
“Talk to your kids” is what various kindly, good-looking TV stars tell me with some regularity during commercial breaks as I fumble for the remote control. I appreciate the sentiment, I really do, but with all due respect…
“Getting to Know the Family Savant”
Chicago Tribune, 10/8/02
“What’s his, you know … special talent?” someone recently asked me about my 16-year-old autistic son. His special talent? I thought. Mmm …Spitting and singing while jumping on his trampoline?
“Finding Joy on an Outing with Walker”
Chicago Tribune, 3/12/2000
‘I loved the sound of the garbage truck in the morning.’ I was talking to my autistic son, Walker, as we strolled one Saturday in summer through George Williams College Camp in Lake Geneva, Wis.
“A Father Tells the Story”
Chicago Magazine, May, 1998
I’m sitting in my living room on a Saturday afternoon reading a book and trying to ignore the excited, happy shouting of Walker, my 12-year-old autistic son. He is in the back room of the house yelling, “No Water Tower today!” which is Walkerspeak for “Let’s get out and run to Water Tower Place now, Dad!”
“Living With ‘The Look’”
I am walking down a busy Chicago street with Walker, my autistic 11-year-old son, and people are staring at him. He’s a boy blessed with terrific good looks—tall and straight, with big dark eyes, glossy hair and movie star’s smile—but this isn’t what’s turning heads…