Susan McCorkindale

Author. Editor. Autism Advocate.

Different But Alike

We’ve all got something that makes us different, thank God. Can you imagine a world of cookie cutter, Stepford people? Beam me up, Scotty, ’cause I’m not sticking around for that. But we all have things in common, too. I always wish we’d look for the common ground in dealing with people. And believe me, I’m not perfect. I remind myself constantly to do just that.

For example, my eldest has autism. I have anxiety. These are just two things that make us different. There are dozens of others. He remembers everything, I haven’t held a memory in my head for more than 20 seconds in years. I think. I can’t really recall. He’s incredible with computers, and digital thingies like getting Amazon Prime linked to our TV. It’s a miracle! There’s a beam , bringing cool shows and movies – like magic – into my little house! His focus is enviable. It should be patented and sold. We’d make millions. And then there’s me. My adult ADHD has me writing this, responding to work email, and Googling “best cameras for youTube” at the same time. Is it any wonder I’m always tired and he’s so chill?

We are different. And we are alike.

The other night over dinner, completely out of nowhere, he says to me, “You know what kind of days I like the best?” I said, nope. He said, “The days where I don’t spend any money!” I was floored. The kid’s a clotheshorse.

Casey at a recent D.C. united match. Clearly he spent a bunch of bucks that day!

The folks at Amazon and Hot Topic send him birthday cards, for Pete’s sake. But you know what? That’s my favorite kind of day, too. I had no idea we had this in common. We both love Tostitos, can’t add, can quote Tropic Thunder line for line (not something to brag about, but still), and more, so much more. But this new common ground cracked me up and comforted me. He’s not going to put himself – or me! – in the poor house! Praise the Lord! 

More importantly it reminded me to see past his autism, and to push our conversations away from the countless soccer videos and Star Wars memes he wants to show me in lieu of talking. Those things are within his comfort zone but clearly, it’s expanding. I need to encourage it. Remind myself of all the common ground my kid and I share and reach for topics that pertain to them.

He is so much more than his autism. I am so much more than my anxiety. We are all so much more than we appear to be. We all need to reach for the common ground that connects us. It isn’t always easy. We may not always feel like making the effort. But when we do, it makes a world of difference. For us, for others. For the world.


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Extra Stuff!

My friend Meighan O’Toole of Stuff! Consignments in Gainesville has started a fun new series of events called Extra Stuff! and this coming Wednesday, September 19th, yours truly is the extra stuff. She’s hosting Ladies’ Night at Club Eclipse Restaurant (also in Gainesville) and I hope you’ll join me for it.

There’ll be food and drink specials (i.e. wine!), and I’m supposed to say a word or two. I’m also supposed to do that prior to enjoying a drink special but, well, we’ll see how that goes. (You want me to be thisclose to wine and deny myself some? What kind of savage are you???)

Call (ok, text) your friends and put Wednesday on your calendar. Meighan and Jason Flis, the owner of Club Eclipse, do so much to support our community and in this case they’re throwing their support behind Girls’ Night Out. Yes, that’s a cause. And it’s cause to kick up your heels (or just take the damn things off) and catch up with your girlfriends for a few hours. I hope you’ll join me!

Wednesday, September 19th, 7pm

Club Eclipse Restaurant, 5615 Wellington Road, Gainesville/703-508-9399

(And for your shopping pleasure prior to Ladies’ Night, hit Stuff! Consignments at 7482 Limestone Drive, Gainesville/703-753-2330)

xoxo Susan


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Autism speaks through music

Autism speaks through music, and for my son Casey, it always has.

As a very young child, a rushing, swirling, full-bodied overture in a movie would bring him to tears. I recall thinking, “How sweet, he’s a mush like me!” but no. His tears were his attempt to tell me he was overloaded by the volume of the song and the emotions it evoked in him.

He has come a long way since then. Today he loves a wide variety of music and he loves it loud, so loud I can hear him coming ten minutes before he gets to my house. It’s ok though. I hear the blaring cacophony of Sleeping with Sirens, throw in the linguine, he walks in the door and boom! dinner is served, piping hot and perfect for my baby.

He plays music, too, on the guitar. He studied locally, at Drum and Strum, and now plays open mic nights around town. He does all of the things and more the “experts” told us he wouldn’t. I harbor no ill will toward those experts and thank them for setting the original, albeit low, bar for my son so we knew what to push toward and past. If could find them I’d tell them how wrong they were. I think they’d be thrilled.

I know I’m thrilled to share this article with you. It’s running in the September issue of Warrenton Lifestyle magazine. My colleague, Pam Kamphuis, made it happen. I can’t thank her enough. If you click the above photo, you can read it in full.

Share it with someone you know who has autism.

Share it, and this post, with that person’s loved ones.

Spread the hope.




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7-Year Itch Special!

It’s been 7 years since 500 Acres and No Place to Hide, More Confessions of a Counterfeit Farm Girl came out. It debuted on Labor Day weekend, 2011. Five months earlier, on April 13th, Stu died. I will be forever grateful to my editor  for getting a really, really advance copy of the book for him to see before he passed.

As you can imagine, the book tour for 500 Acres was very difficult for me. I was grief stricken, exhausted, too thin, and wracked with panic attacks. For example, I could drive, but only if I didn’t try to breathe at the same time. Consequently, I feel as if I never gave the book the push it deserved. Of the two I’ve written, it’s the better book. It’s funny and sad, just like real life. Maybe it’s too late now to encourage people to read it but, hopeless optimist that I am, I’m trying anyway.

In honor of the 7th anniversary of the publication of 500 Acres, I’m celebrating with my first ever 7-Year Itch Special.  If you missed 500 Acres (and therefore have yet to discover “Cluckster’s Last Stand” and what “Looking for Dick in All the Wrong Places” is really about), here’s your chance to get a signed copy for yourself or a friend who could use a little more laughter in her (or his!) life.

See the “Buy Now” button below? Once you click it, you’ll be taken to Susan McCorkindale, LLC’s spot on PayPal. Then:

  1. The lovely people at PayPal will ask for your credit card information, email, and shipping address (the $25 fee covers the book and all costs associated with getting it in the mail lickety split).
  2. I’ll receive your order summary and drop you an email asking to whom you’d like the book inscribed and where you’d like it shipped.

A little complicated but nothing an always and forever fake farm girl can’t handle. Thanks so much for celebrating with me and remember: books signed by the Author make great gifts!

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