If you missed Part 1 of my interview with Virginia G. Breen last week, you can read it HERE. The book she wrote with her daughter, Elizabeth M. Bonker, I AM IN HERE is a must read! I hope you enjoy Part 2 of our interview below. ~Leigh
LAW: You state in the book that it isn’t enough to be a persistent parent when raising a child with autism…that instead you’ve found that being relentless is a must. I adore the 10 Rules you created for yourself. Can you share a little about that thought process so that other parents might create their own “rules” to live by?
VGB: I really appreciate how you understand that these are my Rules and how we each have to make our own. For me, it’s important to recognize upfront that being a parent of a special needs child is hard (Rule #1: Survive) but also full of joy (Rule #9: Celebrate Your Victories) if you make the right choices (Rule #10: Be a Victor, Not a Victim). I just tried to think about what was important to Elizabeth’s success and what it means to be a relentless parent including being upbeat (Rule #8) and keeping her dreams alive (Rule #7). Elizabeth says it more poetically:
All of life is moving, grooving
To the beat of life.
Life is about going forward and living life to the fullest. We are meant to take care of ourselves and make the most of ourselves.
LAW: In the book you talk about how your friend Charlie produced a beautiful PBS series about Elizabeth’s poetry. How can our readers find and view that and is there anything you’d like them to know before watching?
VGB: The PBS show featuring Elizabeth’s story and poetry can be viewed on their website HERE. They covered a lot of ground in nine minutes including her success in mainstream school, biomedical interventions, her communication methods, poetry, ethical issues and how all this can test your faith. Our hope is that this video (and others to follow) and her book will change the way the world looks at autism. As Elizabeth writes:
I sometimes fear
That people cannot understand
That I hear.
And I know
That they don’t believe I go
To every extreme
To try to express
My need to talk.
If only they could walk
In my shoes
They would share my news:
I am in here.
And trying to speak everyday
In some kind of way.
AutismSpot Readers: Will you drop in next week to read our final installment of this interview and see more of Elizabeth's tremendous poetry?
Leigh Attaway Wilcox is Editor in Charge of the internationally acclaimed AutismSpot.com and her work can be found on many of the pLDNetworks sites. Leigh is the author of ALL BETTER: A Touch-and-Heal Book published by Piggy Toes Press in 2007 (now available for digital download via Moving Picture Books). Leigh lives in North Texas with her husband and young son who loves reading, LEGOs, Mario Bros. and also happens to live with Asperger's Syndrome, an Autism Spectrum Disorder.