Susan McCorkindale

Author. Editor. Autism Advocate.

Posts Tagged ‘autism’


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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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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Autism and Adult Life (Not Exactly Topics You Expect a Fake Farm Girl to Talk About!)


Dear Readers,

Thanks for not giving up on me and for continuing to subscribe to my website. This post isn’t to announce a new book, but it is to bring you up to speed on an initiative I’ve launched that could lead to one.

I’ve started a nonprofit called Casey’s Place, which is dedicated to building supported living residences for young adults with autism. My oldest has autism, and the project is a natural offshoot of the work I’ve been doing to help him live as independently as possible. For all the details, I hope you’ll click through to read my latest column on the Huffington Post. Please feel free to share the piece with anyone who might have an interest, and do leave me a comment. Thanks!






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