Meet Our Contributors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum

Meet Our Contributors

Jessica Adam is happily married to the love of her life. She is blessed to be the mother of the sweetest boy on the planet. She enjoys writing, reading, and hiking on the family’s forty acres. She hopes to write many more stories about her favorite things.

Janet Amorello received her BFA degree from Emmanuel College. Janet is Vice President, Director of Marketing for a community bank. Her son, 17, has autism. She enjoys art, writing, reading and taking life a day at a time with her husband and son. Follow her on Facebook at

Douglas Baker is a rarely practicing attorney, sometime writer, and full-time legal editor in Madison, WI, as well as parent to Daniel, a remarkable child who has taught his father, mother, and twin sister Anna much about life and value. E-mail him at debaker50@gmail. com.

Christine Bakter has two sons with autism. She is the 2007 Autism Speaks Founder’s Award recipient for excellence in volunteer leadership and political advocacy, and in 2009 helped pass autism insurance reform in New Jersey. She advocates as a member of the Special Needs Advisory Commission in Hamilton, NJ. E-mail her at

Angela Benam lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband and two young sons. She works both at home to focus on her family, and also at a Baltimore City public school. Angela is interested in traditional foods and in conscientious, respectful treatment of children. E-mail her at

Lorri Benedik has been freelancing for twelve years. Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Reader’s Digest and Canadian Living. Lorri devotes her time to biography writing, living in Montreal with her husband Manny, their awesome son Zach, and mini-schnauzer. E-mail her at

Jennifer Berger currently resides in Queens, NY with her husband Aaron and their 5-year-old son Josh. A former editor and freelance writer who loves to read and write, Jennifer is now a stay-at-home wife, mother and full-time advocate for her child.

Writer, speaker, spiritual director, and mother of an adult son with autism, Kathleen Bolduc’s passion is helping parents find God in a child’s disability. Her books include Autism & Alleluias and His Name Is Joel: Searching for God in a Son’s Disability. She is hard at work on a new book.

Katherine Briccetti, author of Blood Strangers: A Memoir, a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, holds an MFA degree in creative writing and a PhD in clinical psychology. She is a school psychologist in California and is writing a memoir about raising a son with Asperger’s and working with children on the autism spectrum.

Jean McAllister Brooks trained in anthropology and is a mother and advocate. She is currently wondering how the Common Core State Standards and related new assessments will affect students with significant intellectual disabilities and their noble teachers. Send interesting information her way via e-mail at mcallisterbrooks@msn. com.

Trey Brown earned degrees from the U.S. Naval Academy and St. John’s College, Annapolis, flew tactical Navy helicopters, taught English at USNA, was an official Navy-Pentagon spokesman, and is now speechwriter for the Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence. His son Ben was diagnosed with autism in 2004. E-mail him at

Anne Moore Burnett is the author of the Mom’s Choice Award Gold Recipient-winning book, Step Ahead of Autism. She currently holds the position of State Director for Best Buddies International. Anne enjoys writing about many topics including her two children, Joey and Mattie; running; nature; and everyday life.

Jennifer Bush is a blogger with degrees from UC Berkeley and Yale. She spent several years working in the high tech trenches of Silicon Valley. Jennifer lives in San Jose, CA with her husband, 3-year-old daughter, and 5-year-old son, who is on the autism spectrum. E-mail her at

Stephanie Carmel graduated from Boston College in 1989. She is the mother of two boys, one on the spectrum and one neurotypical. She writes for a disability advocacy company, and hopes to publish both children’s books and the novel that has been swimming about in her head for many years.

Liane Kupferberg Carter is a journalist whose articles and essays have appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and The Huffington Post. She writes a monthly column for Autism After 16. Contact her at

Beth Cato is an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and a frequent contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She’s originally from Hanford, CA, but now resides in Buckeye, AZ with her husband and son.

Laura Cichoracki is an ordinary mother to two amazing children and wife to a wonderful husband. She believes strongly that every child, without exception, has a gift that must be discovered and developed. She works for a local special education cooperative and enjoys reading.

Lana Clifton holds a degree in English. She is a freelance writer who is also a wife and a homeschool teacher to her two children. She loves reading, writing, photography, bike riding and spending time with her family in their North Texas home. E-mail her at lana@lclifton. com.

Christine Coleman is your typical suburban stay-at-home hockey mom who enjoys writing, knitting and photography. She navigates the trials, tribulations and triumphs in the world of autism (and parenting in general!) as she raises her two boys and little girl with her husband in the Greater Toronto Area of Ontario, Canada.

Melinda Coppola has been writing since she was ten. A yoga teacher and Reiki master, she enjoys infusing her work of heart with her voice as a poet. Melinda lives happily in a quiet Massachusetts town with her husband Nick, her daughter Emily, and a couple of well-loved pets. E-mail het at

Allison Hermann Craigie received her B.S. degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. She promotes Asperger’s awareness, most notably as Sam’s national tour manager. She is a former member of the Princeton Child Development Institute’s Board of Trustees, and resides in South Florida with her son and daughter. E-mail her at

Tina Dula’s son Myles was diagnosed with autism in 2003. She founded the Myles-A-Part Foundation in 2007 to provide financial and emotional support for families living with autism. The Dulas’ journey with autism has been featured on Headline News, NPR, The Montel Williams Show, and other media outlets.

Alison Dyer received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the State University of New York College at Cortland. Her older brother Jeffrey has autism and has shaped her life in every way. She works at Autism Speaks as the Social Media Manager and resides in New York City.

Jean Ferratier has a passion to share life experiences through inspirational stories. She is a heart-centered awareness coach, linking synchronicity with life purpose.

Shari Cohen Forsythe received a B.A. degree from the University of Illinois and a J.D. degree from Suffolk University Law School. She loves singing, writing, traveling, tennis and dance. Shari lives in Northbrook, IL, with her husband Duncan and sons Alex and Noah. E-mail her at

Growing up in Oregon, Luisa R. Fortunato earned a B.A. degree in arts and letters followed by an M.S. in counseling psychology. With her college-professor husband, they raised four children in Ohio. After twenty-five years counseling in vocational rehabilitation, she retired to enjoy grandchildren and pursue creative writing.

Seth Fowler’s son, William, was diagnosed with autism at the age of two and a half. His wife, Melanie, wrote the book Look At My Eyes to help other families navigate the autism spectrum. Seth and Melanie continue to help other parents through speaking engagements and outreach initiatives. Learn more at

Jennifer Froelich is a novelist living in Idaho with her husband and two children. Her first novel, Dream of Me, was published in 2011. Her second, A Place Between Breaths, is due for publication in 2013. Jennifer is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism.

Sharon Fuentes is a freelance writer, autism advocate and proud mom of two who has mastered the art of run-on sentences and writing between the hours of 7:50 a.m. and 2:35 p.m. Monday through Friday; unless of course there is a snow day . . . then just forget about it! E-mail Sharon at

Amy Giles received her B.A. degree in English Literature from the State University of New York at Oneonta. She is a freelance copywriter. Amy is also a parent member for her school district’s Committee of Special Education. She lives in Long Island, NY. E-mail her at

Michael Gingerich has co-founded Someone To Tell It To (, a non-profit counseling service. He is a graduated of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Lancaster Theological Seminary. Michael and his wife Kathy live in Hershey, PA. They have three sons and two granddaughters.

Kym Grosso has a 16-year-old son on the spectrum and a 6-year-old daughter. She has a B.S. degree in speech therapy and an MBA degree in health care administration. She belongs to several autism organizations, and has published autism articles on and She also writes paranormal romance novels.

Dawn Hentrich is a stay-at-home mom, freelance writer and Jill of All Trades. She spends her day chasing after her “Au-some” son, writing for her blog, preparing for the zombie apocalypse and introducing her son to the finer points of rock and roll. Visit her blog at

Kate Coveny Hood is mother to one fantastic son with special needs and equally fabulous boy/girl twins (all born within eighteen months). Before parenthood, she and her husband traveled the world. New adventures include writing ( and producing a national stage show ( in Washington, D.C.

Peggy Janousky received her Masters of Education degree from Hofstra University. She is a freelance children’s author. Peggy also maintains a private practice where she supports and guides other families with special needs children. She is happily married and the proud mother of two amazing young men. E-mail her at

Sue Jeantheau is a full-time wife and mother of two daughters. She directs two senior handbell ensembles in the greater Richmond, VA area, and enjoys sewing and cooking. Sue would like to encourage you in your journey at

Ann Kilter graduated from Michigan State University in 1984. She has spent twenty-six years preparing her autistic children for the day when they would leave the harbor. She works full-time as a legal secretary, but writes a blog about transition. Learn more at

Maura Klopfenstein-Oprisko and her husband are proud parents to a 4-year-old autistic son and a 6-year-old gifted daughter. She has a B.A. degree in professional writing and writes a restricted diets column for Crawfordsville’s Journal Review. Unsolicited hugs from her kids bring her indescribable joy.

Karen Krejcha is Executive Director and Co-Founder of Autism Empowerment, a non-profit promoting acceptance, enrichment, inspiration and empowerment within the autism and Asperger’s communities. She is a 2012 GRASP Distinguished Spectrumite Medal honoree, enjoys writing, public speaking and is a former professional bowler. E-mail her at

Kathy Labosh is the mother of two boys with autism and the author of several books on autism: The Child with Autism at Home and in the Community, The Child with Autism Goes to Florida and The Child with Autism Learns About Faith. Learn more at or e-mail Kathy at

Michelle Landrum is a former journalist who changed careers to work with autism researchers. She lives in Baltimore with her husband Michael Bayer, two sons, and their Pitbull mix. She enjoys a wide circle of friends who have children on the spectrum — and other great friends who are kind and supportive. E-mail her at

Kathleen Leopold is the mother of four children — three of whom are on the spectrum. Her personal blog is She also co-runs the Autism Blogs Directory and is one of the producers and co-hosts of “The Blog Ladies” on The Autism Channel.

Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning author of books for young people and a columnist for She and her son Joshua are the blue-haired stars of the StoryCorps animation Q & A, which has given people around the world insight into Asperger syndrome, parenting, and love. Visit her at and Twitter @sarahdarerlitt.

Sarah Maizes is a parenting humorist, author, blogger and founder of, a parenting website. She is a regular contributor to, The Huffington Post, and CBS Los Angeles, and is the author of several humor books and books for children. Visit her at

Carrie Malinowski is a first grade teacher and reading tutor. She is a previous contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and the author of Hand-Me-Down Bear, a picture book for children ages four to seven. Ms. Malinowski lives in Arizona with her husband, son, and her dog, Chester. Visit her at

Terri Manzione graduated St. John’s University School of Law. After seventeen years of practicing law, she began working with families raising children on the spectrum, and the agencies who care for them. She loves writing about the journey of raising Stuey, and the road toward making Joseph’s Wish come true.

Jean Marino lives on an island in upstate New York, where she tolerates the harsh winters and relishes rare sunny days. As a mother of five, she’s proficient at gluten-free cooking, embarrassing antics, and juggling time between work, play and writing. Though days can be hectic, and her schedule is full, her family is her everything and life is good.

Sharon Martin received her Bachelor of Applied Arts degree from Central Michigan University in 1989. After working in magazine publishing, she now works in marketing at Purdue University. Sharon enjoys spending time with her three children and finding the humor that accompanies life on the spectrum. E-mail her at

Hope Maven is the mother of two boys with autism. She holds a master’s degree and post-graduate certificate in autism spectrum disorders from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. Guidance from other parents of children with autism fast-tracked her sons to intensive early intervention. Now, she pays it forward.

Leigh Merryday is a school media specialist, wife and mother to two young children — one typical and one autistic. In addition to authoring her award-winning blog, Flappiness Is, she has been published in other print and online parenting publications. E-mail her at

Sally Meyer resides in Utah. She is an award-winning screenwriter. Her poems on autism are displayed at Sally has eight children and ten grandchildren. She’s producing Rain Child, a documentary about children on the autism spectrum. E-mail her at

Sarah Mitchell believes in living life to the fullest. As a mother of three, she divides her passion between her family, her farm and writing. Sarah is revising her novel-length manuscript to submit for publication with the hope that when her children are young adults, they’ll read it and be proud.

Bonnie Monroe, a parent of two, teaches high-functioning autistic children how to sail independently, in Clearwater, FL. Bonnie enjoys spending time with her 13-year-old high-functioning autistic son sailing. Check out the Facebook site Camp Awesome of Clearwater Community Sailing Center or e-mail her at bonniemonroe55@gmail. com.

Lava Mueller lives in Vermont where she teaches writing at a community college. When she checked with her son about publishing this story he said it was fine with him as long as he got half the cut. E-mail Lava at

Gwen Navarrete is a Training and Development Specialist who received her B.S. degree in hotel administration from Cornell University. She actively volunteers and teaches CPR/First Aid for the American Red Cross. Originally from New York, New Jersey, and Manila, Philippines, Gwen currently resides in Las Vegas, NV with her family.

Aspen Nolette is a stay-at-home mom and resides with her husband Ryan and two children, Joshua and Shiloh, in Chesapeake, VA. She enjoys spending time at the beach, taking photographs and writing. Aspen plans to continue to share her sons’ beautiful story through future published works. E-mail her at

Lori Odhner and her husband John have nine children. Raising a child on the spectrum has impacted them all for the better. His siblings wear T-shirts printed with a $100 bill, a photo of him instead of Ben Franklin and the caption “It’s All about the Benjamin.”

Adrienne Paradis recently left the workforce to be a stay-at-home mom, and enjoys living in beautiful Roxborough, CO with her husband and son. This is her first story submitted for publication, but Adrienne looks forward to becoming an accomplished writer that benefits other parents of special-needs children.

Phil Parham, entrepreneur, speaker, author, and dad to three wonderful boys. He was a contestant on The Biggest Loser. Phil co-authored The 90-Day Fitness Challenge and The Amazing Fitness Adventure for Your Kids. He’s an advocate for the autism community. Learn more about the program his son attended at or e-mail Phil at

Cynthia J. Patton is a special-needs attorney, founder of the nonprofit Autism A to Z, and an award-winning writer and speaker. Her work has appeared in ten anthologies, including the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Cynthia is completing a memoir on her unconventional journey to motherhood. Learn more at

Faith Paulsen’s poetry and prose have appeared in journals and collections including, Apiary, Wild River Review, Literary Mama, three Cup of Comfort collections, What Canst Thou Say?, and three in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series (four now!). She is the mother of three amazing sons and lives with her husband in Norristown, PA.

Galen Pearl leads retreats and discussion groups based on her program to develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. She writes a blog and has published a book about her program, titled 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There). E-mail her at galenpearl@gmail. com.

D’Ann Renner, author of Dancing from the Shadows, is a writer and speaker with a passion for helping disadvantaged children. D’Ann enjoys reading, writing, rafting, traveling, and volunteering. She and her husband are the proud parents of two third-world children, one of whom has autism. Contact D’Ann at

Michele Bissonnette Robbins is a mother, author, songwriter and social change catalyst. She is Managing Director of YES! (, which connects and inspires visionary young leaders worldwide. She lives with her beloved husband of nineteen years, Ocean, and their autistic twins, River and Bodhi, in California. Contact her through

Alisa Rock received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Maryland College in 1991 and her MBA degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2000. Having fled finance, survived publishing, and clawed through the nonprofit world, Rock now sits and eats truffles as a stay-at-home mom/unemployed blogger. Learn more at

Joyce Rohe is the stay-at-home mother of two beautiful children and is expecting her third child soon. Married to her wonderful husband, Nick, she is the blogger for Spectrum of Blessings, and draws her inspiration for writing through her experiences raising a child with autism. E-mail Joyce or visit her blog at

D.M. Rosner’s publications include The China Doll (K-3 picture book about autism), and Welcome to My World: Adventures in Raising a Child with Autism (parenting humor). She lives in Florida with her two boys, and runs, for which she designs autism awareness shirts, handout cards, and other items.

Julie Casper Roth is an award-winning video artist and filmmaker living in upstate New York. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree, with honors, from Smith College and an MFA degree from the University at Albany, where she currently teaches. E-mail her at julie.

Mary Roth and her husband are the proud parents of two extraordinary and delightful daughters. Mary graduated from Purdue University with a B.A. degree in mechanical engineering and has done some technical writing. This story is dedicated to Mary’s mother, Marilyn, who loves this poem as much as Mary does.

Tyann Sheldon Rouw is a mother of twin boys with autism. She earned a B.A. degree from the University of Northern Iowa and a MSE from Drake University. She enjoys reading, cleaning up messes, and driving a minivan. She is writing a book about her three sons and their adventures.

Michelle Rubin is the mother of three wonderful sons, ages 20, 16 and 11. She is the founder and director of Autism After 21, which provides education, recreational activities and support for individuals on the spectrum who have aged out of the school system. Michelle is an avid runner and tennis player.

Jeneil Palmer Russell blogs at about life with her Army husband Brandon and their daughters Rhema, who is 9, autistic, epileptic, beautiful, brilliant, funny and gentle-hearted, and Hope, who is 6, silly, joyful, imaginative, kind, and full of all the best of childhood. Jeneil is the author of Sunburned Faces.

Caroline Saul received her Social Science degree from the University of Birmingham, England in 1996. She immigrated to Israel in 1999 where she lives with her husband and four children. Caroline writes about raising children on the autism spectrum and is currently building a collection of her work. E-mail her at

Amy McMunn Schindler, educated in journalism and law, has studied autism from the School of Hard Knocks for over a decade. The mother of two autistic sons, she is a native West Virginian living in Rochester, NY with her husband and kids, the dog, fish, gecko and some crickets. Visit her at

Carol Schmidt has served as an educational consultant to an early autism project at Colorado State University as well as for schools and families in Colorado. She is co- author of Autism in the School-Aged Child: Expanding Behavioral Strategies and Promoting Success. She has a son on the autism spectrum.

Shelley Stolaroff Segal is a playwright, composer, and essayist living in Greensboro, NC. She earned her English Literature and theater degrees at UNC Chapel Hill and the Drama Studio London. Her latest play, My Son, was recently produced at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. E-mail her at

Laura Shumaker is the author of A Regular Guy: Growing Up With Autism and of a popular autism blog for the San Francisco Chronicle. She is the proud mother of three sons. The oldest, Matthew, has autism. Laura lives in Northern California with her husband, Peter.

Former journalist Robin J. Silverman loves to write creative nonfiction. Part of the Kansas City Writer’s Group, she’s been published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ingram’s magazine, Canyon Voices, Mayo Clinic Guide to Women’s Cancers and Voices of Autism. She’s writing a book about parenting a daughter with Asperger syndrome.

Alison Singer is co-founder and president of the Autism Science Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding autism research and supporting families raising children with autism. Her daughter, Jodie, is diagnosed with autism. Alison also has an older brother with autism. Learn more at

At home in the Pacific Northwest, Wendy Sparrow writes for adults and young adults. She has two wonderfully quirky kids, a supportive husband, and a perpetually messy house because everything is more fun than cleaning. Most days she can be found goofing off on Twitter @WendySparrow.

Steve Spilde is a full-time parent and works part-time as a spiritual director at the Franciscan Spirituality Center of La Crosse, WI. Prior to that, he severed as a Lutheran pastor at parishes in Wisconsin, Texas, and Minnesota. E-mail him at

F. Lewis “Big Daddy” Stark brings his unique view of fatherhood to life in his books and blog. His tales from the lighter side of raising a child with autism show that raising a kid with special needs is not all doom and gloom. Rather, it can be quite humorous and inspirational.

Amy Stout is a wife, mommy, and freelance writer, who, together with her family, is exploring the land of “Autism.” She dreams of having a spotlessly clean castle but she tends to “nest” and snuggle with her family more than clean. She loves to travel and has a weakness for coffee and coffee houses! Learn more at

Florence Strang is a Registered Psychologist and Horticultural Therapist who lives in scenic Lewin’s Cove, Newfoundland with her three children. Her book, 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It, co-written with Susan Gonzalez, will be released in 2013 (Basic Health Publications). She blogs at

René Thompson lives with her editor husband, son and grouchy cat. She’s working on a book concerning African Americans in southeastern Kentucky. Her son David is a sophomore and scored in the 99% on the PSAT, and continues to want to be a math teacher. E-mail her at

Jayne Thurber-Smith is an award-winning writer for various publications including Faith & Friends, Floral Business magazine and The Buffalo News, and is a sports contributor to Her and her husband’s favorite activity is being included in whatever their four adult children have going on. E-mail her at jthurbersmith@cox. net.

Eric Tor received his B.A. degree in economics from Brown University in 2009. He now works as a derivatives trader in Chicago, and by night is a music director and performer for various improv comedy troupes and bands. His brother, Charlie, will be starting college next fall. E-mail him at

J. Vetter received a Bachelor of Arts degree in computer science/information systems. She is a stay-at-home mom to two children. She enjoys running, writing, counted cross stitch, and stand-up paddle boarding. She is currently working on her first novel.

D. Alison Watt is the author of Hurricane Dancing, a book of poetry about life’s experiences with a child who is severely affected by autism. Ali enjoys spreading awareness through speaking and writing. She has recently completed a work about her daughter turning eighteen. E-mail her at

Janoah White is a freelance writer living in Chicago, IL. She holds a Master of Arts degree in journalism and a Bachelor of Arts degree in television, both from Columbia College Chicago. Janoah truly has a heart for individuals with special needs, as well as their loved ones.

Jean Winegardner is a writer who lives in Maryland with her husband and three neurodiverse sons. She blogs as Stimey at Jean was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 2012. She believes that if you have a choice between laughing and crying, you should always try to laugh.

Jennifer Doelle Young lives in Toronto, Ontario, where she writes software documentation and blogs about her life. She enjoys running, photography and Whack-a-Mole, but it’s her family that is the chicken soup for her soul. She dreams of co-authoring a book about autism with her son. E-mail her at

René Zimbelman is finishing her first novel, Mizerably Happy. She graduated with a degree in marketing and she returned to school for further instruction in early childhood education. René loves to write, hike, travel and be with family and friends. Visit her blog at

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