Squidalicious Reviews

On Ice
February 12, 2013, 7:10 pm
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Obviously this site is on ice for a bit. Please feel free to read my writings at:

www.Squidalicious.com | ThinkingAutismGuide.com | BlogHer.com

Warm regards,Shannon Des Roches Rosa




Winners for My Brother Charlie Book Giveaway!
April 22, 2010, 10:15 pm
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Hurrah and congratulations to the three contest winners who will be receiving copies of My Brother Charlie, the new children’s book about autism by Holly Robinson Peete & Ryan Elizabeth Peete!

In first place is Christina Faria, who will be winning the signed copy of My Brother Charlie. Here is what Christina said:

This gave me a much needed smile today. I can’t wait to get my hands on my own copy of the book. Too cute!

Second place winner Rose Deduyo will get a regular copy of the book. Her comment was touching:

I would like to have a copy of the book because I would like to know what is like to have a typical child at home & how it feels to have someone who child like nature to help an autistic child/sibling.

We have a 6.5 years old Daniel who has been diagnosed with Autism. We have no relatives around, no neighbors in the community who has typical child so Daniel will have a role model, whom he can “play with.”. At least through reading a book like My Brother Charlie by HRP, I could at least imagine and dream deep in my heart that Daniel has someone who could teach him how to play the truck, race cars, run with another child, how to play soccer at the point of view of a typical child. Thank you .

Third place winner Stephanie will be sending her regular copy of the book to her sister, an early education teacher:

My sister collects children books and teaches early education and I think this would be an excellent addition to her collection to teach children.

I will send along the winners’ email addresses to the powers that be; you all should hear from them shortly.

Thank you to everyone who entered. Thanks also to Holly and Ryan for their generosity. I am so glad the books will be going to good homes, that My Brother Charlie’s message of autism acceptance and love will be reaching so many people!

Winners were chosen via Random.org. If you would like to verify that you were indeed entered into the drawing, enter the email address from your comment into this contest’s Random.org verification page.

Costco Carnivores Experimental Dinner Party #1
March 23, 2009, 6:17 am
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So, the economy. Smacked us in our asses, too. We are budgeting like the wind. We are born-again Costco shoppers.

Did you know they sell really, really big hunks of meat at Costco?

Mali was “helping” me with pre-party house prep. After the picture was taken, she stashed this broom. It took us 24 hours to find it.

Hunks big enough that were one to be in possession of, say, an industrial oven that was bought on the cheap for a dream house that never materialized, one could talk twelve friends (and friends of friends) into an experimental gourmet potluck dinner by promising them at least a pound of restaurant-quality rib-eye roast, for a per-person investment of only six dollars?

Points to anyone who can name this china pattern.

It’s all true. And while I found the roast to be a notch or two below the epiphanic rib-eye steaks (also Costco) that Jennyalice, Seymour, Descartes, and I enjoyed on Valentine’s Day, I thought it worth the investment. I hope our guests agreed.

And I hope we do it again. Because — damn — people can cook! The appetizers, salads, sides, wine, and desserts gave me indefinite fodder for happy foodie daydreams.

What did we do with our kids, you may ask? Well, few of us monkey-tenders have extra babysitting cash, and many of us have quirky monkeys who are not always restaurant-friendly anyhow. Why not feed the monkeys pizza and then let Homer Simpson be their babysitter while the adults eat the human food?

Scoff if you will, but my kids know the difference between satire (Simpsons) and parody (Weird Al). Do yours?

Ideally. Leelo is not a pizza-eater or a Simpsons-watcher, so Seymour, Sage, Jennyalice (blessed, all), & I took turns hanging with him during the dinner. The other kids were happy to enter TV trances.

Were we to have another side-of-beef feast, I would likely get a sitter just for Leelo. But we have had other dinner parties, smaller dinner parties, Costco-fueled dinner parties, babysitter-free dinner parties; parties in which our friends with the quirkiest, Leelo-bracket kids have brought said kids along and put them to sleep in the guest room after kiddie dinner, and we adults have enjoyed late but happily kid-free dinners and apertifs:

Yaar, they be gripping the Green Fairy.

And then we all get to wake up the next day and have a happy happy multi-family morning:

Note that last night’s sidecar fixings are still on the counter.

So, if you’re like us: looking for a good time, don’t want to pay for babysitting, can’t really take your kids out anyhow; or if you just can’t pass up an opportunity to knaw on some damn fine meat, you know who to call.

(P.S. I’ve not linked to the mostly bloggity-blogger attendees so as to not stand on their shoulders.)

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Promoting Peer Empathy for Special Needs Kids
March 13, 2009, 8:37 pm
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This is a follow up to Monday’s post Not Nice, in which I bullied a girl despite (though not because of) learning about her sister with special needs, and Wednesday’s post What Kind of Kid Bullies the Sibling of a Special Needs Child?

(Apologies for the posting delay. I’m coming off a 40-hour day that included a Can I Sit With You? Live! event, plus an overnight vigil to sign Leelo up for summer camp — during which the temperature hovered around 40 degrees, I got in a screaming match with another parent (not proud, details to come), and my cohorts and I succeeded in getting our kids into our first choice camp dates.)

Why is it that no one ever talked about my junior high classmate Deanna’s sister? Why is it that we didn’t know that she had a sister with special needs the same way people knew that Sally’s sister played the tuba, that Michael’s dad was a dentist, or that Gillian had a single mom?

I suspect it was because parents of children with special needs were so much more isolated from each other twenty years ago. I am guessing that without today’s online social facilitation tools like Yahoo! email groups, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, it was much more difficult to hook into a community of friendly but assertive parent advocates, and so speak out or take action on behalf of one’s kids.

I have those online tools at my disposal, so this is what I do with them:

I blog, obviously. While my posts skew more towards Leelo’s challenging and less towards his happy contented times, I want his humanity fully documented. I want people outside the special needs community to know that kids without recovery success stories can thrive, too. And that they are very, very loved.

I take advantage of my position on both typical and special needs parenting yahoo! email boards to promote easy opportunities for kids to build empathy for their special needs peers. I want the parents of those typical kids to see that I have no problem talking about my special needs child, and that I want their kids to feel the same way (am I using guilt to twist their arms? Maybe. That line is sometimes blurry). Here’s this week’s example:

The last three performances of the Pacifica Spindrift Players’ The Miracle Worker are this weekend: http://www.pacificaspindriftplayers.org/

For those who may not know, The Miracle Worker is the story of Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, and is a wrenching but ultimately cathartic portrayal of the freeing of a trapped mind. In the play, blind and deaf Helen is basically feral until Annie comes into her life and shows her how to communicate. With Annie’s guidance and advocacy, Helen blossoms and eventually becomes an author and political activist. (More information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_keller)

My eight-year-old son won’t sit through a play, but I’m rounding up a crew of his neurotypical ten-year-old sisters’ friends, and driving them to the play myself. And not because I’m altruistic — it is part of an ongoing campaign to help my daughter’s friends see her autistic brother as a person and a soul despite his communication difficulties.

I’m putting this out there for any like-minded parents who might not know of this opportunity.


I use those same boards to spread information and hand out tools from our local Special Ed PTA (SEPTAR) meetings, such as Diane Levinthal’s presentation on Helping Peers Understand our Kids’s Social Challenges. Diane’s is a script that any parent can present:

Those peers and their parents only live inside their computers part of the time, so I take offline action, as well:

I take Leelo out as much as I can. I want peers to know that my daughters have a brother. (Really, I want Leelo to be comfortable with our entire community, and I would like that feeling to be mutual.) Leelo’s recent behavioral challenges put his ambassadorship on temporary hiatus, but Risperdol seems to be helping him once again tolerate and even enjoy the world outside our house and his school.

I try to make our house a destination for all three of my kids’ friends. We have a pool, a big trampoline, and lots of toys. We always have pizza, cookies, or ice cream. We have wiggle cars, scooters, and ideal hide-and-seek conditions. We have beanbags and walls of books. We have a big wild tree-filled hillside for exploring, including a path that leads to a neighbor’s horse corral. I want Iz’s and Mali’s friends to want to come to Leelo’s house. I want their peers to spend time around Leelo, to get to know him, to understand how to hang out with him. I have no problem providing whatever bait it takes to reel them in, and get them to stay.

I know we can’t reach all of Iz’s and Mali’s friends. I know that peer pressure may get to the more weak-willed of them, and make them start declining play dates. Friends who once understood that Leelo has occasional accidents, that his behavior is sometimes erratic, may start to be less comfortable as coolness and rebellion factor into their social calculations.

I also know that kids can be heartless. The most horrifying conversation I’ve ever overheard took place between two typical high school jocks: they laughed as they described the mean things a friend did to his wheelchair-bound paraplegic mother because she couldn’t stop him. I have always wondered if they were just crossing sticks to impress each other, or if they really were that awful? If they and their parents had been exposed to everything I’ve listed above, would they have known better?

What I am trying to do, what I will keep doing, is trying to reach kids like them, like the junior high me. Kids whose empathy can hopefully be cultivated, with enough early guidance and immersion.

My girls’ lives are going to be challenging enough with Leelo as their brother, darling as he can be. I’m doing whatever I can to make sure their peers don’t make their lives even harder.


The inspiration for this series was Facebook’s continuing insistence that I Friend Deanna — we share almost 30 friends. I cringe every time her picture is served up.

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Jenny McCarthy the Carpetbagging Autism Lottery Winner
December 3, 2008, 7:08 pm
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Yesterday’s mail included a Jenny McCarthy article from a well-meaning friend of my mother’s who wanted to know my opinion on everyone’s favorite Warrior Mother.

I emailed her back, and told her that Jenny McCarthy’s son is not like my son. And when people assume that our sons are alike, that I haven’t tried to “save” my son, it makes me angry.

I wrote that basically, Jenny’s son won the lottery, and Leelo didn’t. So, of course there is some jealousy there, because who doesn’t want to hit the jackpot? I want Leelo to feel comfortable in his skin, like her son. I want him to have the ability to tell me what he’s thinking, what he wants, what would make him happy, what would keep him from being so frustrated and anxious all day long. But I am not bitter or resentful about Jenny’s son’s development, because I have observed the developmental trajectories and family efforts of enough children with autism to know that Jenny lucked out, that she got a kid with a variation on autism that is nothing like Leelo’s.

But most lottery winners know that their good fortune came through luck, and they do not go on national TV telling other hopefuls how they, too, can be mega-winners. They do not ignore researchers who tell them that while there may be a system for winning the lottery in the future, right now all we can do is keep playing.

I don’t even begrudge winners like Jenny for making more money by telling their own story. We all have that right. But she should know better than to exploit desperate wannabe-winners by selling or promoting products that will help them win, too. This is carpetbagging, this is peddling snake oil, and — unless she intends to pull a Paul Newman and donate proceeds to families still struggling with autism — this is vile opportunism. And it disgusts me.

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Mike Adamick on Can I Sit With You?
December 1, 2008, 6:19 pm
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This week’s Can I Sit With You? Story is The Weirdest Kid in the World, by Mike Adamick of Cry It Out: Adventures of a Stay-at-Home Dad and StrollerDerby.

Mike’s is one of the most painfully funny stories in the new Can I Sit With You Too? book — a book which tops your holiday gifting list this year, yes? (Don’t forget that lulu.com shipping costs go down down down when you purchase in bulk.)

Mike’s participation in Can I Sit With You? is a particular treat for me, as his guide to the Westin St. Francis area was one of my favorite parts of BlogHer08 San Francisco. And I suspect I’m not alone.


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Can I Sit With You Too? Book Now Available!
November 26, 2008, 8:51 am
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Our second book, Can I Sit With You Too? is now officially for sale! Thank you so very much to everyone who helped make this book happen. Please help us spread the word.


Can I Sit With You Too? features an introduction by SJ Alexander of I, Asshole, cover art by Lea Hernandez, book design by Amy Freels, and includes the heartwrenching and hilarious stories of Mike Adamick, Pamela Merrit (AKA Shark-Fu), and Gwendomama, among others.

The book is $18 plus shipping and the download is $11 — a bit more than the original collection, but this book contains a larger number of stories. And all proceeds go directly to SEPTAR, the Special Ed PTA of Redwood City, which provides support, education, and community to families of special needs children in and around Redwood City, California. (You may tell skeptics who think this project “only” supports a local PTA that they might as well say the Bridge School Benefit “only” supports a local school.)

Here is what Can I Sit With You Too? is all about, via the back cover blurb:

Can I Sit With You Too? is the second collection of stories from the Can I Sit With You? project (www.canisitwithyou.org). These new tales represent an even wider range of schoolyard experiences, including best friend disappointments, new kid fears, harsh discrimination, living with disabilities, and emerging sexuality. By sharing moments from kindergarten through high school, these stories once again remind us that we are not alone: chances are, if it happened to you, it happened to someone else, too.

If you would like to promote Can I Sit With You Too? on a website, please email me at ciswysubmissions@gmail.com and I will send you the code for this tidy little “Buy Now!” button:

Buy Can I Sit With You Too? Right Now!
Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.

P.S. Please note that we still have not published all the stories in the book on the website; some are still queued up. But we will. And know that we always welcome new stories.

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