When Andy Warhol said “everyone should have 15 minutes of fame,” he was right. For autism parents who work 24/7 to help their children reach their full potential, receiving praise and recognition for our efforts is especially sweet. I’m delighted that Autism Awareness month has helped shine a light on what it means to raise a child on the spectrum. With the April publication of my memoir, My Picture Perfect Family – What Happens When One Twin Has Autism, I’ve been interviewed by various radio shows and mommy bloggers.
So far my most exciting radio interview has been with Jenny McCarthy on Sirius XM (www.
Prior to the interview, while waiting my turn, I spoke to a young woman who was a booker for the station’s 80 shows. I couldn’t resist asking her why guests were requested to show up in person.
“Celebrities ask me that question all the time.” The booker smiled. “The energy is much better in person. I don’t book anyone who can’t show up.”
I didn’t know about Jenny’s energy, but I had about 40 minutes of lead time to feel the energy of anticipation amid the hubbub of the enormous waiting area. There a bling bedecked rock group was being photographed, and radio personnel were busy putting up signs and laying out drinks to welcome an important guest. I helped myself to a small bottle of water.
When one of Jenny’s assistants came to escort me into the interview, she smiled, but did not shake my extended hand. “I have a terrible cold. You don’t want to get it.”
Next thing I knew I was handed a set of headphones, and the interview—which felt more like a friendly chat—began. Jenny McCarthy made me feel totally at ease with her warm, friendly manner. Many of the questions she asked were those I’ve come to expect: When was your daughter diagnosed? What was it like having one twin with autism while the other developed normally? How did the neurotypical twin feel about having a sister on the spectrum? What are they doing now?
But a few of Jenny McCarthy’s questions came straight from the heart. As a fellow autism mother of a teenage boy, she asked: “Has your daughter been bullied? How did you handle it? Does she have a boyfriend?”
We also discussed the relative difficulty of teaching teenage boys and girls the rules of intimacy. Is it harder for a young hormonal male on the spectrum to understand that “no means no?” Or is it more difficult for girls like my daughter to clearly and firmly state their sexual boundaries? In the end, I think we agreed that these critical lessons were equally daunting, regardless of which gender parents are educating. (Teaching neurotypical kids the rules of dating isn’t so easy either)!
After the 20 minute interview—longer than Warhol’s recommended 15—Jenny took a picture of us smiling together for her Twitter page. Although Jenny McCarthy is blonde, beautiful and famous, and I’m just another author and autism mom, I floated out of the interview feeling like we were sisters who shared a special bond, like army buddies who served together.