This guest Q&A is from Judy Walters, author of the book The Place to Say Goodbye which is available on Amazon here. Autism Speaks Staffer Kerry Magro recently had the chance to chat with Ms. Walters about her book...
Kerry: Hi Judy! Can you tell our readers how you came about the idea of your new book, The Place to Say Goodbye?
Judy: My husband and I have very close friends with a 24-year-old adult son, Greg, with autism. I’ve known Greg since before he was born, and have watched him and his parents struggle his whole life. I decided to write a book about a nonverbal, autistic man named Carson, who, like Greg, lives in a group home and goes to a special day program, to try to show what life with significant autism, and the lives of the family of that individual, are like.
What can readers learn from Carson, the character in your book with autism?
I like to think what makes my novel unique is that Carson is nonverbal, but the reader gets to “hear” the thoughts in his mind, something the other two main characters in the book, Eleanor and Genevieve, his twin sisters, can’t do. A lot of people think nonverbal people with autism don’t have thoughts or feelings or aren’t whole, but I refuse to believe that.
What do you believe is one of the biggest obstacles facing adults with autism today in our community?
The lack of services, for sure. There is so little available to people once they turn 21 and are no longer eligible for services through the schools. We need better programs and transportation so that adults with autism can be happy, proud contributing members of society, and lead independent lives. Their families also need to know their loved ones are safe and happy and well cared for.
Were there any authors out there in the autism community who inspired you in the process of writing this book?
Lisa Genova, an author who writes novels that explore conditions of the brain, wrote Love, Anthony, about a mother grieving after the death of her young son with autism.
The importance of siblings plays a huge part in your book. What advice would you give to those who may have a brother and/or sister on the spectrum?
I can’t give advice to those siblings because I haven’t experienced it – I’d love for them to reach out to me and tell me if I got their feelings and thoughts right in the book, though, so I can learn from them.
What do you hope readers take away from this book?
That autism is an incredibly complicated, far reaching diagnosis that doesn’t end once a child becomes an adult. That adults with autism need just as much care as those children with autism
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
What I really hope is that people who view this will pick up the book, read it, and then reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know if they think I portrayed autism, individuals with autism, and families with an autistic individual correctly and then I hope that those people in the autism community can hand this book to their friends, family, and coworkers and say “Read this so you can understand, a little more about what I’m going through.” I’d like The Place to Say Goodbye to become a resource.