A tennis fanatic (who now has an artificial hip), house renovator, disability activist, and connoisseur of Italian food, I live in a small town in south-central Iowa with my wife, Emily, and son, DJ. We have a 14-foot indoor trampoline that we all jump on religiously.
Emily worked for years as the assistant director of the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities at the University of Florida. She has an M.A. in special education from UF, and she has nearly completed her coursework in the “Language, Literacy, and Culture” PhD program at the University of Iowa. She works as an inclusion consultant and oversees DJ’s inclusion at the local high school.
Not only is DJ a straight “A,” honor-roll student, but the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library recently selected him as one of Iowa’s fifteen “Uncommon Students,” the only one with a disability. He’s an incredibly smart, sensitive young man who writes exquisite poems and speaks with the aid of a computer. Having written the final chapter of Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption and published his own essays, speeches, and opinion pieces, he wants to become a writer after college. He is currently working on a documentary about his own inclusion experience with the filmmaker Rob Rooy.
Look in the future for a book by my wife about how to include a non-speaking child with autism in a regular classroom, no matter what the child’s apparent deficits (an awful word) might be.