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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Standard Deviation" and "Autism Awareness"

I had hoped to write this post after Book Club...but it got rescheduled...and I'll be out of town on the rescheduled date.  So.... this will be on-the-fly and slightly short, but sweet!

January's Book Club selection, Standard Deviation's, primary character is a young man with Asperger's Syndrome.  Many of my readers know I have a deaf son who hears with cochlear implants...and he also has Asperger's Syndrome.  As a result, Autism Awareness is a cause near and dear to my heart.  I am also a huge fan of the author, David Harry.

When I first met David, I had engaged in a conversation with his wife at a book signing event at Paragraph's on Padre several years ago.  David was not the author for that particular event, but had recently published The Padre Puzzle.  Since I had instantly bonded with his wife, we started talking about kids, and teen-age problems, and it circled around to autism.  She told me I had to meet her husband as he was writing a book where the character has ASD.  She brought him over to meet me and I ended up, after chatting with him, having the opportunity to read a draft of his new book a couple of years ago.  I love all of David's books - but Standard Deviation is particularly near and dear to my heart.

Book Club on Tuesday was not only featuring Standard Deviation, but the icing on the cookie was that David Harry was going to attend!  I decided to make some puzzle shaped cookies with some new cookie cutters I had obtained last year and never had the opportunity to use.  I wanted to take them to Book Club and share as we talked about this wonderful book.  I started on them a couple of days in advance and ended up with a simple Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookie top coated in white royal icing and then outlined and sugar dipped in primary colors, representing the "Puzzle that is Autism".  Why a puzzle piece?  the Autism Society's website describes it well.  "The puzzle pattern reflects the mystery and complexity of the autism spectrum. The different colors and shapes represent the diversity of the people and families living with the condition. The brightness of the ribbon signals hope — hope that through increased awareness of autism, and through early intervention and appropriate treatments, people with autism will lead fuller, more complete lives."

David, unfortunately, was quite ill so Book Club was rescheduled and I had a couple of dozen decorated cookies, representing the puzzle of autism, sitting in my car as I headed away from Paragraphs.  What to do?  What to do?

As I headed back towards the causeway, I picked up my phone and found a number for a friend I knew to be on the Autism Awareness Walk's planning committee.  I left a voice mail telling her to call me if they were going to meet this week and I'd supply some cookies. These cookies really needed to be eaten in the next couple of days because I didn't individually wrap and seal them (which makes them taste fresh much longer). She called me back in less than 5 minutes saying they were just walking into that very meeting.  "It must be meant to be" she said - and I agreed.  I headed to the Point Isabel ISD offices where they meet and crashed their meeting with cookies.  I ended up staying through the meeting so I could find out a bit of info for a future blog post.

One of the things I found out, is the date is April 5th, 2014.  There is to be a walk and a 5k fun run.  Most of the rest of the meeting was "planning" and details not finalized.  I'll just ask you to mark your calendar if you are a local, or live close enough to participate.  It is a huge community event with the funds raised going, in part, towards paying for sports programs for all disabilities in our district.  I remember the first year, we just wanted to raise awareness and it was tremendously successful - more than we ever dreamed.  I didn't help last year because of family issues, so it was interesting to see how they have grown and become more organized and efficient in the planning.  I just know the 2014 event will be a huge success.

I had gotten  "out of touch" with the autism community in our area because my son had headed to college and I sort of disconnected from the group.  I am currently seeking out new resources for my son and I hope to share that information with other parents in the near future.  I spent quite a while after the meeting catching up with one of my favorite people in the world, Elsa Garcia.  She cares so deeply for the special needs students at PI-ISD and it was good to see her again.  My friend, Stephanie, is right.  Sometimes things are just "meant to be".  This is one of those serendipitous events that allowed me to share cookies and reconnect.  It turned into a really wonderful day!  Who could ask for anything more?

Bon Appetit, Y'all!!!


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