I've been neglecting my Sister on the Edge of Autism blog this month, and that's because I've been a sister on the road.
This April, for National Autism Awareness Month, I have been traveling around the western states talking to people about my new book How to be a Sister: A Love Story With a Twist of Autism. This is the story of my childhood with my sister Margaret, who has autism, and my quest to connect with her as an adult.
I've been to bookstores in Seattle, Spokane, Portland and Albuquerque as well as the smaller towns in the Columbia River Gorge where I live. I've been interviewed for newspapers, TV, radio and blogs.
I'm still traveling - this week to Bend and Bainbridge Island and next week to Boulder, Vail and Denver.
It's an honor and a privilege to be on tour and have a chance to talk about my book and my life with Margaret, and yet the hardest part is not having time to write, including stories for this blog.
To tied myself over, I am taking notes about the people I've met, and I'm beginning to see a familiar pattern: In the world of autism support, it's individuals that make it happen.
I've met parents, grandparents and siblings, teachers and therapists, and adults and kids with autism.
I met Lisa Davis, radio host of "It's Your Health Radio" and the mother of a child who might be on the spectrum. (Davis interviewed me the same day that she talked to Eustacia Cutler, Temple Grandin's mom, about how autism affects siblings. You can listen to our interviews on the show's audio archive.)
I saw Don Meyer, director of the Sibling Support Project in Seattle, an organization that reaches out to child and adult siblings of people with disabilities.
I met Katie Stone, a producer on KUNM in Albuquerque who has family members on the spectrum. (Stone reviewed the book for KUNM, and you can listen here.)
Chris Macfarlane, professor of special education at Pacific University, invited me to be the keynote for her autism community conference, and I also talked to students at University of Portland and Whitworth University.
The staff of Adventure Without Limits, an organization that plans and supports outdoor adventure trips for people with disabilities.
I've met Special Olympics coaches, ARC volunteers, neighbors and friends of families affected by autism.
Each of these people are each working in their own quiet way to do whatever it is they can do to improve someone's life. They are small pockets of creativity and energy.
It's inspiring and reassuring to witness the slow, human effort of autism awareness happening, one conversation at a time.