Shonda Schilling, mother of a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and wife of retired Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, read from her book The Best Kind of Different: Our Family’s Journey With Asperger’s Syndrome at an event held on National Children’s Mental Health Day, Tuesday, May 3, at UMass Medical School. Published in 2010, the book chronicles her mission to understand her son Grant’s differences, and help him address the challenges often associated with Asperger’s Syndrome and other ASDs.
The event was hosted by the Child and Adolescent Neurodevelopment Initiative (CANDI) at UMMS in celebration of Children’s Mental Health Week, which runs May 1 to May 7. It was also supported by the Autism Consortium and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center for Developmental Disabilities, which together made paperback copies of Schilling’s book available to attendees at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis. Representatives from local community service providers ASPIRE (a work-study program at UMass for high school graduates who have Asperger's Syndrome), the Parent Professional Advocacy League (PPAL), CANDI and the Center for Living and Working were also on hand at a providers’ fair where attendees could obtain information and referrals.
Speaking from the heart about the struggles and triumphs she and her family have experienced, peppering her talk with stories that prompted nods of recognition from audience members, Schilling captivated the family members, educators and behavioral health professionals in attendance. While time ran short for her to answer everyone during the question and answer period, she made up for it at the book signing that followed. With her 13-year-old daughter Gabby sitting by her side, Schilling offered warm greetings and words of encouragement to each individual she met.
The comment of one participant summed up the collective experience of recognition and understanding for all when she said, “You get it!” to Schilling during the question and answer segment.
View highlights of the event in this slideshow:
Schilling offers hope to parents
The Child and Adolescent Neurodevelopment Initiative (CANDI) Tea with MDs connects community with child and adolescent psychiatry experts
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center Autism at Shriver, part 1: Teens get moving, have fun
Autism at Shriver, part 2: New center offers vital insurance information
Autism at Shriver, part 3: Creating leaders, changing lives
The Autism Consortium