Yesterday I spent the evening with the Kim Stagliano. They were in Cleveland for a doctor appt. and Kim’s husband Mark was going out with a friend, so I hung out in the hotel suite with Kim and her girls. For those who don’t know Kim already, (perhaps you are new to the Internet and just stumbled upon my blog accidentally) all three of Kim’s girls have autism. That’s Mia above, and below is Gianna, holding tight to her beloved book on feelings. “Excited” is her favorite page.
After traveling all day, the family went out to dinner and Kim barely had two bites before Gianna had a meltdown and they had to leave the restaurant. You would never know it. A short time later, I arrived and first of all, Kim looked great. Secondly she was just so loving and compassionate with her girls. Not a trace of annoyance or frazzled-ness. She tended to all three of them, preparing them for bed, getting teeth brushed, all the while holding a conversation with me. She’s a graceful mother. That’s what she is. Bella fell asleep like this, with Kim rubbing her legs and feet as we chattered away.
Bella is a little doll. Same age as Riley.
Kim and I had a wonderful conversation. We dished bio-med. We talked about the Dr. of Chinese Medicine my family is seeing. We talked about service dogs, and PANDAS and books (she has one coming out in 2010), and yes, we talked about vaccines. I’ve gotten away from the politics of autism on this blog, but I do personally believe vaccines have contributed greatly to the increase in autism. Part of me truly thinks parents are CRAZY not to be more informed about vaccines. I admit I secretly scoff at parents who are involved in the PTA, who feed their kids nutritious food, who limit the amount of TV time their precious little ones get, but who have absolutely no clue about what they are putting into their children’s bodies in the form of immunizations. Have no clue about the politics involved and the financial conflicts of interest behind pushing through new vaccine after new vaccine. Have no clue they haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of getting help if their child has an adverse reaction. Have no idea truly how many adverse reactions to vaccines there are! I also secretly roll my eyes at special needs parents who swear their baby was “born that way.” Not unless you tell me they didn’t get the mercury laden Hep B vaccine at birth (or merc filled HiB and Hep B at two months, or four months),or that you didn’t get a flu shot or Rhogham while pregnant. And if you pass that test, I’ll ask to look in your mouth to count how many leaky silver fillings you have, and I’ll inquire about your tuna habit.
That being said, I happen to think there is a bigger spiritual issue at play concerning the autism epidemic, one we don’t quite understand and may never understand fully in this lifetime. Part of me has to admit our family is living a very LARGE experience, a direct result of having a child on the spectrum. My life has absolutely been blessed by Riley. Her autism has led the way to so much personal growth. There has been pain, but she has brought deeper joy than we ever would have experienced had she not been exactly who she is. Dare I say autism has made us more, and not less? A few years ago that kind of talk would have pissed me off, but there it is.
Anyway, back to Kim. It was so good to see her in action. Passionate-Energizer bunny-advocate-editor-super mom-author that she is. Her girls are extraordinary. It was a lovely visit, and I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend time with them.