J.P Osterman is a former teacher and the author of the 2011 book, “The Screaming Stone.” J.P is a skilled writer and has won awards for her writing from the Maui and Southern California Writing Conferences. Her passions in writing have been focused on quest-driven novels, from science fiction to young adult novels. We recently talked with J.P to discuss her work.
How did you first get involved with the autism community?
I became involved with the autism community in the late 1970s in California when my oldest son Michael was diagnosed with autism at the age of almost 4. In those days, physicians weren’t knowledgeable about the neurological experience, that’s how I personally describe autism and Asperger’s syndrome. I spent months at various doctors’ offices trying to understand why Michael could not speak but just scream, not interact with other children but only jump around and rock in place.
After a child psychiatrist finally diagnosed Michael, I began attending classes at a Regional Center in California, learning behavioral strategies, and attending support groups to help me and Michael. With my 16-year-old son Andrew, who has Asperger’s, we have attended Meet Ups with other parents and Andrew has interacted with his peers at various Meet Ups and support groups. Here in Melbourne, Florida is a Scott Center for Autism at the Florida Institute of Technology. My family plans to become involved at the Scott Center as we continue to settle in Florida.
We were fascinated by character Robbie in "The Screaming Stone". Can you tell us a bit about what inspired Robbie’s character?
I modeled Robbie’s character on my own two children and another close family member. While growing up, I also had a few other relatives who I believe had Asperger’s but who received little or no assistance, for example, support groups, let alone an education, job preparation, and social-interaction opportunities to equip them to navigate successfully through life. Furthermore, people blamed their parents or how their parents raised them. So ludicrous!
Such misinformation people had back in those days of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s! “Sad,” I always thought, growing up in the background of my genius but enigmatic relatives. And I felt so helpless to defend them and help them. For example, I had an uncle who died homeless because he could never hold a job and relate to people to keep a job. Raising my own autistic son and Aspie son, I can’t tell you how many times I felt ashamed when strangers were staring at or laughing at my “different” children. I sure learned how to block out staring and pointing people!
Since Asperger’s was not a formal diagnosis until the late 1980s, very few people with “the unique, neurological processing experience” received help, social/behavior assistance, or education. In my book, my great-uncle Charlie is one of those types of people. He and my other homeless uncle “slipped through the cracks of life” to live isolated lives. After my great-Uncle Charlie died, they didn’t discover his body for over nine days! In my own personal experience, I see autism and Asperger’s as definitely having a genetic component. I tried hard also to illuminate the brilliant genius inside the autistic/Aspie individual.
Can you tell us what’s next for you?
I keep writing novels, all sorts of novels, from science fiction to whistle-blowing action-adventure stories. I have book II in my Marcie and Robbie story percolating and hopefully will begin the novel later this year. I also continue to help my 16-year-old son with his social struggles as we utilize all the necessary assistance to help him navigate through life successfully. Good news about my 36-year-old autistic son: Because of all the help and additional years of education he received due to the advancement of autism awareness, he has a daily job, a roommate, and likes his life. I am so proud of Michael for working so hard and living in the world successfully.
Thanks to the generosity of J.P, 90% of each book purchased of her book “The Screaming Stone” will be donated to Autism Speaks to support our mission! You can purchase her book on Amazon, Infinity Publish and Smashwords.