After seven straight years of writing weekly blogs—mostly about autism—I sometimes need to take a week off.  I may take a break because of vacation, lack of inspiration or stress and fatigue. (The latter three often go together).  Until Thursday morning, I was pretty sure this week would be blogless.  But, surprise, surprise! Today turned into one of those marvelous, exciting, satisfying, wonderful rare days in the life of an autism mom—the reverse of all of those Lemony Snicket terrible, awful, no good days that happen far more often. And just like that, I had a noteworthy experience (in fact several!) to share with my readers.

Thursday started with an email from an autism center in Austin, Texas informing me that they had selected The Never-Empty Nest as one of the 35 best autism blogs for 2018!!!

All 35 final selections can be seen in this post:

Receiving this recognition was particularly heart-warming because I don’t earn money for writing my blog; nor are advertisers clamoring to fill my margins with ads. I write because I’m inspired to tell my daughter’s unfolding autism story and to share related topics that may offer insight, hope, or humor to other autism families and their friends. I consider it a privilege to be able to write whatever I want at my convenience, but being honored for my work is the cherry on top.

Thursday’s lunch was special too.  Julie Sherman, director of the Harrisburg Jewish Film Festival, was in New York and invited Samantha and me to lunch at a lovely restaurant in an effort to convince us 100% (98% wasn’t good enough!) to attend the Harrisburg Film Festival screening of Keep the Change on May 10th.  While my cheese soufflé was divine, what made the lunch so uplifting for me was that Samantha was at her chattiest and most charming. Julie fell in love with her, said she had charisma, explained what that meant to Samantha, and we all shared a nearly perfect meal. The only dicey moment was when the maitre’d mysteriously snatched Samantha’s nearly full glass of iceless Diet Coke with no explanation.

“Don’t worry, we’ll get you another one,” I reassured Samantha before she could react.

“But why did he take it? My glass was full.” Samantha sounded slightly irritated and confused.

Julie and I were both clueless.

“It had a hair in it,” the maitre’d explained, returning with a fresh glass.

We all shrugged and laughed. Who knew that the maitre’d would notice a hair from faraway OR care if it was in Samantha’s glass?  We were sitting right next to her and hadn’t seen the hair. Even if we had, I’m pretty sure that strand would have belonged to my daughter.

At the end of the meal, Julie asked if she could hug Samantha goodbye.

“I love hugs,” Samantha answered, wrapping her arms around Julie.

When I arrived home from lunch, there was even more good news waiting in my email.  A committee member organizing the  2018 United Nations’ World Autism Awareness Day on April 5th had expressed interest in inviting Samantha to speak at the event (after a midnight email from me suggested her inclusion).  The theme this year is Empowering Girls and Women with Autism.  What could be more empowering than my daughter co-starring in Keep the Change, the first feature film to cast actors with autism in the leading roles, and which also won Best Narrative Film in the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and earned Samantha a Best Actress nomination? Apparently, my midnight pitch worked and Samantha may actually be invited to attend the UN Conference on April 5th! I’ll find out next week. Stay tuned…



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