andy warholWhen 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.picture perfect book cover

So far my most exciting radio interview has been with Jenny McCarthy on Sirius XM (www.jennymccarthysdirtysexyfunny.com/) on April 20th.  Radio stations from across the country have asked me questions over the  phone about my book, my daughter, and autism related issues, but Jenny McCarthy was the first celebrity show host to interview me in ­person!  Yes, that’s right. I sat in a tiny, sound proof room, wearing a pair of headsets and a microphone while Jenny McCarthy talked to me from two feet away.

Prior to the interview, while waiting my turn, I spoke to a young woman who was a booker for the station’s jenny smiling80 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 guess that’s true,” I tentatively agreed.small sirius logo (black)

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.sirius building

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?”birds and bees cartoon

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)!birds and bees 1

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.

Moments after crossing the finish line of a Buddy Run to end the 2013 Best Ranger Competition, 1st Lt. Nicholas Plocar (right) of the Wisconsin Army National Guard and 1st Lt. Travis Cornwall of the Georgia Army National Guard congratulate each other. They finished seventh out of 51 original teams. National Guard Strength Readiness Support Center photo by Bradley Logan

 

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