Yes, she wants to change her children, or at least their autism diagnosis. Kim is a self-described “curebie”, an autism parent who believes that “through a combination of medical treatment, therapy, schooling, and a rosary that stretches from Connecticut to California” we’ll be able to bring these kids to recovery (or remission, or normal, or typical, or whatever you call it when they can blend in with their peers and live full independent lives). Doesn’t sound so greedy now, right?
But this is not a book that’s solely about autism. Kim starts way before the diagnoses; all the way back when she wore glasses with giant blue plastic frames with a gold letter K sticker on one lens (I had those, minus the initial!). She discusses her less-than-traditionally-sequenced wedding, her 10-month old “dream baby” who was happy and smiling and "normal", her husband’s job changes (multiple and forced), and how they all contribute to her life.
Autism has become trendy (although, in reality, it more closely matches the meaning that everything is moving in that direction, not the meaning that implies fashion or style). Celebrities have chosen sides and act as spokespersons (Jenny McCarthy wrote the foreword of AICH). And while they may be famous, they’re acting first as moms who want to help their children.
But, like any good fight, autism strongly divides. Accusations and damaging words are thrown around. And, like most fights, each side could benefit from understanding—if not agreeing with—the other’s point. Kim is very passionate about her stance, yet knows that understanding and choice are key factors. Her name is often, incorrectly, tied in a disparaging way to the “anti-vaccine” movement.
More accurately, she is pro-vaccine choice and safety. She feels that “every parent has to do their own homework and consult with their pediatrician to determine family history, possible allergies to ingredients, and other contraindications that might necessitate altering the pediatric vaccine schedule”. This is exactly how I feel about most issues—learn the facts first, then make an educated decision; don’t just follow the crowd (or the celeb whose hair you most admire).
Kim writes with such levity and humor and, although working passionately towards a cure, accepts every part of her life without regret. She approaches this complex topic with the seriousness that it deserves and the patience and lightheartedness that it demands. It literally is a “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll learn” type of book. Whether you’re personally affected by autism, looking to learn more about it, or just looking for a good read, All I Can Handle is it.
Luckily for you, Kim has offered to send a signed copy to one reader. Please leave a comment below telling me why you’d like to read All I Can Handle. A winner will be chosen at random on July 12, 2011. If you’re not the lucky winner, you can find a copy on Kim’s website, Amazon, or local bookstores.