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Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Podcast: Autism, acceptance and the path toward independence

February 24, 2010

"Raising Brandon: Creating a Path to Independence for your Adult 'Kid' with Autism & Special Needs"

"Raising Brandon: Creating a Path to Independence for your Adult 'Kid' with Autism & Special Needs"

As an optimist I believe, no matter what, spring will come and seeds will grow. So a couple of weeks ago during a winter storm I popped a dozen organic beans into biodegradable pots. Every other day I watered them. I took them out whenever the sun showed its face and I dutifully retrieved them at night so they wouldn’t catch a chill. This morning my baby beans measured 4 inches tall so I shuttled them up to the garden and tucked them in. Tomorrow I expect to see at least one beanstalk poking through the clouds and by June I know I’ll bask in the green glow of my neighbors’ envy.

Parents are by far the most optimistic gardeners. Once the seed’s planted we naturally assume our baby will be above average in all ways. Healthy, sweet-tempered, a champion sleeper and oh so smart, talented and athletic.  But when tiny baby or growing child doesn’t match our expectations for whatever reason, parents may feel ashamed, guilty, angry or all of the above.

If you’ve got a special needs child you know exactly what I’m talking about. Even as you deal with today’s parenting challenges you may also worry about how your child will find his way when he’s no longer a child and must deal with the world’s expectations. At those times nothing is more encouraging than talking with an experienced parent who is ahead of you on the path, offering practical advice and hope. Those special people are like a breath of spring, chasing cold fear from your heart.

In this week’s podcast I talk with Amalia Starr, author of Raising Brandon: Creating a Path to Independence for your Adult ‘Kid’ with Autism & Special Needs. Amalia is a family consultant and motivational speaker who specializes in supporting parents of children with special needs through workshops, seminars, and private sessions. Her results-based approach focuses on empowering both parents and their children to reach their full potential. As a mother, she has devoted more than thirty-six years to creating a path to independence for her son, Brandon.

Listen to my interview with Amalia Starr right here:

If you have iTunes, you can subscribe to this podcast in the iTunes Store.

Or, you can download an MP3 version here.

Upcoming guests include:

Matthew Amster-Burton, author of Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater

Salome Thomas-El (aka Principal El), author of I Choose to Stay: A Black Teacher Refuses to Desert the Inner City and  The Immortality of Influence: We Can Build The Best Minds of the Next Generation

David McQueen, international speaker empowering adults and youth alike on subjects such as leadership, careers and communication skills.

Hannah Friedman, author of Everything Sucks: Losing My Mind and Finding Myself in a High School Quest for Cool

Dara Chadwick, author of You’d Be So Pretty If…

*What’s a podcast? “A podcast is a series of digital media files, usually either digital audio or video, that is made available for download via web syndication.” –Wikipedia… So, in this case, there’s an audio file for you to listen to (in addition to reading the above).



  1. Annie,
    Thank you so much for the interview, now podcast. I think the podcast is terrific! It is always a pleasure to work with someone like you, who is professional, and loves the project. I look forward to adding the podcast to my new website. What a great way to inform and educate parents. I appreciate being included amongst your special authors, and the opportunity to share my message of HOPE, with parents of special needs children.

    Thanks Again,


    Comment by Amalia Starr — February 25, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

  2. I loved this interview and discussion. Having a teen with special needs, I can totally relate to the benefits of throwing expectations out the window and making the most of moments as they come. The surprise results are often more powerful and joyous than the expectations were anyways! (like your lemonaide story) Amalia and Brandon are living examples of the gifts we can receive from each other and all we can learn if we open our hearts and approach each other repectfully, without judgements. Thank-you for sharing this message, I hope it enlightens many more people on how an accepting attitude towards differences can make this world a better place for everyone.

    Comment by Tara McClintick — February 28, 2010 @ 8:30 am

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