All autism parents know how difficult and stressful schedule changes can be for a son or daughter on the spectrum.  How comforting would it be to imagine that our kids with autism will outgrow their anxiety and inflexibility? To some extent maturity helps, but not as much as I’d hoped.

As the “momager” of actress Samantha Elisofon, 27, costar of the award winning indie film Keep the Change, schedule changes are increasing rapidly—much like the snow Mother Nature is dumping on New York and the northeast. We were scheduled to go to the Cherry Hill Volvo Jewish Film Festival today, but that got cancelled yesterday due to the blizzard. The festival director offered an alternate date of May 2nd. All well and good—until today when the Israeli distributor offered up a choice of two dates for the premiere in Tel Aviv.  One of them is May 1st.  Lest my readers think Samantha was excited by this prospect, think again. Instead of enjoying the idea of this incredible honor and upcoming adventure, my daughter was worried sick about missing a rehearsal for one of her theater groups.

“But the director made me promise I wouldn’t miss another rehearsal between now and June. I don’t want her to give my part away!”  Samantha burst into tears.

“That won’t happen,” I reassured her.  “I’ll speak to the director. This is the opportunity of a lifetime.” Sigh. Another unpleasant glitch.  I had to spend at least half an hour reassuring my daughter, who—more than most—becomes extremely anxious when threatened.

My husband has never been to Israel and has always wanted to visit.  This invitation to Tel Aviv could easily turn into a trip as exciting and memorable as last summer’s trip to Karlovy Vary. But how best to fit it into everyone’s schedule? We have a Bar Mitzvah we absolutely can’t miss in Boston on April 28th.  Oh yes, and my husband is suddenly insanely busy at work.  What do we do?

Samantha is demanding to know which date we will pick so she can tell her director which rehearsal she’ll miss as far in advance as possible.  Over and over she asks, because she doesn’t like my answer: I don’t know yet.

“Why not?”

“We need more information.” Like whether our airfare, meals and hotel will be paid for by the distributor. (They weren’t in Karlovy Vary). We would also like to know how many people are likely to show up for the premiere. Is the theater big or small and is it well-located? Will there only be one screening? (In Karlovy Vary, there were three). Plus we’d like to check out the distributor…

Copious, fat snowflakes are falling on yet another Wednesday.  This time the meteorologist predicted 10 -12 inches in New York. But right now, as I look out my window onto Second Avenue none of the snow is sticking, despite blizzard conditions. The temperature is now 33 degrees.

I can’t predict whether Mother Nature is going to bury us in a paralyzing amount of snow or laugh as we plod along as usual through a sea of slush.  When Samantha asks if she will need to miss any more rehearsals, I feel the same way. I don’t know if film festivals or publicity opportunities will pop up and whether they will be on a Wednesday or Thursday. What I do know is that she—and we—must ride out this wonderful wave as long as it lasts.

Speaking of wonderful, so many people went to see Keep the Change last week that the movie will be shown at the Quad for another week and include an additional Q and A for the 7:30 show Saturday, March 24th.  Plus the release has expanded to more cities nationwide. Samantha is delighted EXCEPT for not wanting to miss her friend’s birthday party. She likes to stick to her commitments and hates to disappoint a friend.  I have to remind her about priorities.  I assured her that her friend would understand and be supportive.  The party is now rescheduled for Friday, and everyone is happy.

Except me. Do I cancel my dinner plans with good friends in order to go and support Samantha and the movie one more time in New York (and starve until 10pm)?  I’m going to the Boston Reel Abilities Film Festival with Samantha on Monday, so I wouldn’t mind seeing MY friends and taking a day off from the magical mystery tour. But then I have to remind myself how lucky I am to be Samantha Elisofon’s momager, enjoying her incredible success and (hopefully) helping her keep her balance while riding the biggest wave of her life.







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