In their family photos, the Elisofons look like they stepped out of a Hollywood movie—handsome father, beautiful mother, adorable son hugging his twin sister as she beams a radiant smile. The reality was quite different.
Out of the 11,600 children who were born today, some 171 will be diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Receiving this news can be heartbreaking for parents whose fondest wish is to have a healthy child. Marguerite and Howard Elisofon were first alarmed, and then overwhelmed, when their daughter Samantha was diagnosed as being on the Spectrum. The family’s struggle to understand ASDs and find the optimal interventions—in the days before internet resources and autism parenting groups—are at the heart of the compelling memoir MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY: What Happens When One Twin has Autism by Marguerite Elisofon (Central Park Publishers; April 4, 2016).
I had a chance to review the book, which was quite the interesting read. It was heartbreaking to read of Marguerite's struggles to find the right educational fit for her daughter, and the lack of understanding people around her showed. Although her daughter's position on the spectrum wasn't necessarily as severe as what some families experience, it still is an eye-opening insight into what it's like to raise a special needs child, especially without community support.
Author of MY PICTURE PERFECT FAMILY Marguerite Elisofon blogs about parenting young adults and disability related issues in The Never Empty Nest, which was featured on Fox 5 News. Her essays have been published in literary magazines such as: Existere: Journal of Arts and Literature, Write for Light, Hobo Pancakes, Wild Violet and Kaleidoscope. A Vassar graduate, Marguerite was born and raised in New York City, where she still lives with her husband, Howard, in their mostly-empty nest.