Let’s do this. If this is too much for you, you can mute the hashtags
#KaeEditsAUWE and #ElmoMum Pinning the tweet and I’ll do this one the same way as the other. Chapter by chapter breakdown w/commentary and quoted words.
“Before I start reading AUTISM UNCENSORED: PULLING BACK THE CURTAIN by Whitney Ellenby I need to say a few things. I became aware of the book last night when I the washington post article crossed my twitter feed.” – Kaelan Rhywiol
(Random most likely non-autistic photo of “sad boy” used from Pexels. WA Post Story Used an iStock photo to represent Autistic boy, wearing red, facing a wall.)
Bystanders were horrified. But my son has autism, and I was desperate.
“What I did to help my 5-year-old autistic son overcome his intense fear of indoor spaces might not have been right or even safe. Doctors didn’t recommend it. The people who witnessed it were appalled, understandably. I don’t suggest this for others.
I could have been more patient with conventional methods, but I wasn’t. I am not certified in restraining children, though doctors say anyone attempting what I did should be. They would also recommend a much slower approach.
I am writing this because I hope to educate people about the burden families face when their autistic children have tantrums in public spaces, so next time you witness such a struggle you don’t immediately resort to blaming the parents. I’m also reaching out to fellow parents in pain to remind them to cast off shame, because I believe nothing is more important than getting your autistic children out into the world.” –Whitney Ellenby
“And when in the grips of a public tantrum, amidst the horror and humiliation of him shrieking and splayed out on the floor while strangers recoiled in shock, my mind lurched towards an inescapable truth–that I want out from this nightmare. I want out from this child.”
So begins the turbulent ride of one parent’s decision, crafted in despair and desperation, to abandon traditional interventions for her autistic son in favor of a “hands on” approach of repeatedly exposing her son to real-world settings. Autism Uncensored is an unrestricted portal into the mind of someone who had no intention of sacrificing her career or life for Autism, unaware of the many ways it would irreversibly redefine both. As she clarifies at the outset, “this is not the story of a miraculous breakthrough or recovery,” Zack is still very much autistic and always will be. It is instead the true, real-time account of her decision to allow Zack to indulge in the very behaviors that formal therapies sought to extinguish, to disclose Zack’s diagnosis in public settings, and to repeatedly expose him to real-world situations and override his tantrums regardless of public ridicule or scorn.
Autism Uncensored goes where no other book dares–revealing the private disgrace and self-blame about having a “defective” child; the near disintegration of marriage; the failure of the traditional behavioral interventions; and the mercenary way in which service providers prey on parents’ desperation for a cure. It is a personal manifesto about how a socially integrated life is attainable regardless of whether a child overcomes the major limitations of Autism, sparking a new conversation which goes beyond simply accepting persons with Autism for who they are, but considers pushing them beyond their comfort zones to learn who they are capable of becoming. An unstoppable ride with jolting twists and turns, Autism Uncensored will leave you exhilarated, informed and still gasping for air.
“A spellbinding achievement. Startlingly lucid, magnificently honest, and written with a magic golden pen, this book is an act of personal deliverance, spiritual redemption and heroic citizenship. It will make you weep for the people inside of it but cheer for all humanity. The irrepressible Whitney Ellenby shows us that, even in our darkest hours, all is not lost, we can find a way to a personal light.” –Congressman Jamie Raskin, 6th District, Maryland; Professor of Constitutional Law, American University, and Best-selling Author of We the Students and Overruling Democracy: the Supreme Court vs. the American People
“Autism Uncensored is an unflinching exploration of a mother’s emotional–and, at times, physical–struggle for the dignity and humanity of her autistic son. A brave book.” –Ron Suskind, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and best-selling Author of Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism (2014).
“Whitney Ellenby’s Autism Uncensored is not the Hallmark movie version of Autism. It is abrasively honest and often painful to read. But the story of her journey with Zack is one that needs to be told, and the triumphant ending feels earned precisely because of her candor about all that came before it. A truly inspiring read about a remarkable true story.” –Bill Turque, former journalist for The Washington Post and Author of Inventing Al Gore
“Reading the story of Whitney and Zack is so real that I could visualize, feel, and smell the struggles, joys and emotions of their journey. I have worked with families and individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder for over 30 years and never have I experienced the intimate depth of knowing what it takes to raise a child with Autism. The writing exposes a parent’s vulnerability so that others can better learn and understand the true meaning of unconditional love and acceptance. This book is alive!” –Nancy K. Kelly, MS Ed, NYS certified Special Education Teacher/Autism Spectrum Disorder Consultant and School District Administrator
“Whitney Ellenby has written a book of love, not just for her son Zack, but for every person who raises a child. Her story helps us comprehend the importance of balancing theory with the monumentally important component of following your gut.” –Donna Meyer, First Grade Teacher, Bethesda Elementary School.
“What makes this book essential reading is its open and transparent nature. In telling both the darkest and the lightest of moments in raising Zack, Whitney Ellenby gives families dealing with similar situations the best gift of all; they are not alone.” –Steven Osherow, Therapist and friend of Zack.
About the Author
Whitney Ellenby is a former US Department of Justice, Disability Rights attorney whose writings have been published in The Washington Post, a law review periodical, and the U.S. DOJ website. She is the author of “Divinity vs. Discrimination: Curtailing the Divine Reach of Church Authority,” Golden Gate University Law Review (1996)), as well as an amicus brief on behalf of the U.S. DOJ Disability Rights Division regarding discrimination against mobility-impaired individuals in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She is the proud parent of a son with Autism and founder of “Autism Ambassadors,” a charitable venture through which she runs exclusive recreational events for over 600 families impacted by Autism in the Washington, DC/Maryland area, including a Sensory-Friendly showing of the world-famous “Gazillion Bubbles Show.” She is an expert on Autism and has testified before the Maryland Senate on disability-related issues, is a member of the Developmental Disabilities Advisory Council for Montgomery County, MD and serves on the University of Maryland Autism Spectrum Disorder Advisory Board. Whitney’s expertise is steeped in her extensive disability law background, personal experience with her own son, and over 10 years of serving children, teens and adults with Autism of all ages through her “Autism Ambassador” events. Her monthly “Ambassador events” have been featured in local t.v. news, The Washington Post, Bethesda Magazine, and The Bethesda Gazette. Whitney was most recently honored with an “Autism Awareness Proclamation” and “Community Leader” award for her advocacy and dedication to the disability community of Maryland. She has what she describes as a “healthy obsession” with all things Autism.