Telling medical professionals that I am autistic is always really hard for me. Because I am so used to passing, it is something that not a lot of people would suspect about me and it is also something that some people downright disbelieve.

I started physical therapy for a running injury at the end of June and I was nervous about telling my physical therapist, but it seemed important to do so because the way I feel pain and sensation is directly related to my being autistic. I was super relieved when I told him and he said, “I wouldn’t have guessed that,” but then respectfully listened to my sensory perceptions. I was really happy.

Then that PT left for a different practice and I was transferred to a different PT and I was nervous all over again, but I told her and not only was she very respectful about it, she asked a lot of questions and seems to have kept it in mind in terms of her treatment.

Then I had an injury that required me to go see an orthopedist (or, as my sister likes to call them, an orthopod) and because I mostly wanted to (a) make sure I didn’t have a dire injury and (b) get a cortisone shot, I didn’t bother mentioning my autism because (1) it didn’t seem important and (2) I didn’t really want to dive into that particular minefield this morning, especially considering going to doctors is hard enough for a plethora of reasons.

But then he looked at my paperwork, which includes my place of employment and was all, “The Autistic Self Advocacy Network? I’ve never heard of them,” so I gave him my elevator speech about ASAN, including the information that I am autistic and he said…

“If you are autistic, you are very high functioning. I have a nephew who [does this negative thing and then these other negative things].”

*all the sads*

I don’t have a script to reply to that although I really should get one. If I’m autistic? Very high functioning with the implicit dismissal of my struggles and accommodations? A nephew whose frustrated actions are either this man’s vision of him or a conversational weapon to disprove me being autistic enough?


Fortunately that conversation was at the very end of the appointment because all of the emotions that hit me as I walked back to my car were crushing.

I was hurt by his flippant dismissal of me—really hurt.

I was upset that his reaction to my autism was to provide a counterpoint of “there are so many who are really affected.”

I was saddened that his nephew is having a hard time.

I resented the power differential that forces me to be deferential regarding my own lived experience with him because he is in charge of my medical care.

This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. I hear this type of response all. the. time. This isn’t even the first time this has happened to me with a medical professional in the two and half years I’ve worked for ASAN. And I don’t go to doctors all that often.

To be clear, I know that there are many autistic people with many more support needs than me. I absolutely understand that I don’t understand fully what they are going through. I also know that I have a lot of things in common with them that may not be apparent to people who don’t know me well.

I just hate being so dismissed from my very real experience of autism because a doctor who has spent ten minutes with me has a different vision.

I walk through this minefield all the time.

Every time I tell someone I’m autistic I wait to see whether I will get hit with shrapnel. I have been lucky with a lot of people—and with the most important people, but that doesn’t make the explosion hurt any less when it does happen. Even small landmines are landmines.

Why—and How—to Talk to Your Kid About Their Autism

Last week I had the privilege of speaking to a room full of parents of autistic kiddos who wanted advice on how to talk to their kids about their autism diagnoses. I’d like to thank Partnership for Extraordinary Minds for hosting me and for the parents who came with their kids’ best interests in their hearts and excellent questions on their minds. I thought I’d publish my thoughts here because, hell, I already wrote them out, and also maybe they’ll help someone.

I co-presented with a lovely woman who spoke a lot about how kids need to know about their diagnoses to participate in their IEPs and transition plans and in their future when they need job and post secondary school accommodations. She made some excellent points. She spoke without any notes. I had fifteen pages typed out. Some of us were less experienced than others. (Read: me.)

I’d like to thank all of you who emailed and commented when I asked you for your stories. I couldn’t quote everyone in my talk, but I carefully read what each of you had to say and it all informed my talk. You are wonderful. Thank you.

Most of what I said is below (annotated after the fact by me).

I’m really excited to be here today to talk about this. I want to talk to you a little bit about not just how to talk to your kids about their diagnoses, but why you should, but I’ll start by telling you a little bit about me. I live in Montgomery County with my husband and three kids, all of whom have diagnoses of autism, ADHD, or both. Two of them are autistic. I am also autistic. My husband is the sole neurotypical member of my family, which leaves him in charge of everything in my house that requires executive functioning skills. [Alex didn’t think this joke was as funny as I did, but it got a laugh, so take that, Alex.]

I told my kids that I was coming here tonight to talk to you and they all gave me their permission to talk to you about them and their diagnoses, so I’d like to thank  them for that. [They also gave me permission to publish my talk here so, again, thank you to them.]

My oldest son, Sam, is 14 years old and has an ADHD diagnosis. Jack is 12 and autistic. He was diagnosed shortly before he turned five. My ten-year-old, Quinn, was just diagnosed as autistic a few months ago. I was diagnosed with Aspergers, about four years ago, back when you still could be diagnosed that way. I spent 38 years being autistic but not knowing I was autistic. That has had a profound effect on me. I now identify as autistic.

So, I have experience with telling a child about his diagnosis when he was pretty young, telling one who was a little older, and dealing with this discovery myself, so hopefully what I have to say will be of value to you. And, as a side note, my family prefers the identity-first use of the term “autistic,” which is why you hear me say that a lot instead of person with autism. [I hate it when people correct me and tell me I need to use person first language, so I like to beat them to the punch by announcing my intentional use of “autistic.”]

I hear from a lot of people that say they don’t talk about their kids’ diagnoses with them but intend to do so sometime in the future when they think the information will be beneficial to the child or when they’ll need to know it.

I’d like to suggest to you that it is always beneficial to have that kind of self-knowledge and they may need to know it way before you think they do. Chances are that your child already knows something is up. Even when they’re very young, they know if they’re different. Or they are aware that they have a paraeducator at their desk but no one else does. Or that they go to OT and speech therapy and social skills group.

Or what about when your child knows he hates to be touched or hugged, but doesn’t know why, just that he disappoints the people he loves when he shies away from them. That was me. I had—and continue to have—a really big problem with touch and hugs from certain people at certain times. Until I understood why, I thought I was wrong. I thought I was a bad person for not wanting to hug my mom—and this is all the way until after graduate school. All I knew was that they felt bad about it and that made me feel bad about it. [This isn’t to make my mom feel bad—it is just for illustrative purposes. And I very much know she meant no harm. Much love to you, Mom.]

Once I knew about my autism and could understand why I felt the way I do, I knew that my brain was processing things differently and that it was okay to feel that way. It was a life-changing perception shift in so many ways.

When you tell a kid who feels alienated that there is a reason he feels apart and you let him know it’s OKAY to feel that way, it can make a world of difference.

Giving his way of being a name also gives him community. He might not know that there are other people like him in the world. He might think he is the only one. I told my 10-year-old yesterday that more than one percent of people are autistic. You should have seen his face. These kids aren’t alone and they should know that. [Seriously. It was super cool. Quinn had no idea he know so many autistic people. He thought that was cool.]

One common concern I hear from parents is that they worry that once their kids know they are autistic, they will use it as an excuse for why they can’t do things. My answer is that they might.

But kids use lots of things as excuses to get out of what they don’t want to do. The question is if you let them get away with it. These moments are opportunities to expand their understanding of autism—or maybe for you to expand your understanding of your child.

First, you have to check to make sure the excuse isn’t valid. Like maybe she really can’t take a test in that room because she’s autistic and the lights in there bother her. Or maybe he can’t perform in the school concert because the sounds are too overstimulating. Maybe the excuse is a reasonable plea for an accommodation.

But sometimes it really is just an excuse. These are kids after all and kids are creative and smart and can figure out how to manipulate you. [Alelx didn’t think it was a good idea for me to say what I really wanted to, which was, “Kids are jerks,” so I went with “creative and smart and manipulative.”] The few times one of my kids has said as an excuse, “I can’t do that because I’m autistic,” I call them on it. If they say their math homework is too hard for them because they’re autistic, you can sit down with them and show them that they can do it and that their particular neurology doesn’t prevent them from doing math. I think you can treat it like any other excuse—evaluate it for accuracy and then handle it as the situation calls for.

Some people don’t want to label their kids because of the stigma. Unfortunately there is stigma to developmental disabilities like autism. But the word itself—and the child’s self-knowledge—doesn’t cause stigma. If anything, it can give the child a shield when they understand that people who judge them because they are different are wrong. Especially if they know they have a community that backs them up.

Along the lines of stigma, the question of who to share the diagnosis with other than your immediate family is a very important conversation to have, but I think it is separate from this one. I live openly as an autistic person, but there are some situations where I don’t disclose my diagnosis. Regardless of whether you tell schools, employers, and extended family, you should tell your child.

Which brings me to what I think is the most important reason you should tell your child about their diagnoses: It is your child’s right to know. Her diagnosis isn’t your information—it’s hers. These kids have the right to know why they feel and act and do the things they do. They have the right to their information about their brains and bodies.

I’ve reads a lot of things from autistic people and on this subject, they virtually all agree that knowing they are autistic is essential. No one wishes their parents had kept the information from them. Once they learned about their diagnoses, they talk about finally understanding themselves and how they no longer had to see themselves as wrong and broken.

I have included on your handout a link to a blog post called “You should tell your kids that they’re autistic,” written by an autistic adult. If you are struggling with this, I highly recommend you read it, but I also highly recommend you read the comments on the post, many of which are by these same autistic adults. [Really. It’s a brilliant post.]

As someone who spent 38 years without knowing about her autism, I can tell you that the self-knowledge makes a huge difference. I used to spend a lot of time blaming myself for being intolerant of sensory input or thinking I was stupid because I didn’t understand certain things or that I was lazy because I couldn’t organize myself to keep my house clean. I thought I was just uptight and weird and wrong. Once I understood, I was able to understand these things and deal with them. For example, I still have sensory sensitivities, but I know how to avoid that kind of input or I can just cope better. Knowing about my diagnosis has led me to discover things about myself that I never would have otherwise and I am a far happier person because of it.

So if you’re all convinced that you should tell your child about their diagnosis, how do you do it? It can feel like a monumental moment when you tell your kid, but it doesn’t have to be. A lot of it depends on your child’s age and style of communication.

If you’re sitting on the couch together, you can say, “Hey, I’ve been wanting to tell you something,” or on the way to social skills, ask her, “Hey, do you know why you go to social skills group?” [Evidently all of my sentences start with, “Hey!”]

My go-to explanation for introducing the subject is this: Everyone has things that are easier for them and things that are harder for them. Everybody’s brain works differently. The way your brain works has a name and that name is autism. You’re autistic.

That is exactly what I did with Jack. He was nearly five when he was diagnosed and I told him pretty quickly afterward. I like to talk about stuff like this in the car because there is no forced eye contact and they’re kind of a captive audience.

I actually told Jack in the car with his brothers, which may not be best for everyone but was for us. I was able to talk about different ways each of our brains worked and then said, “but the way Jack’s brain works has a name.”

This helped when his brother got an ADHD diagnosis because suddenly we had two neurologies that had names. [I think i might have made happy jazz hands when I said this. I’m a born public speaker.]

Your first conversation can be as short as that: “All brains work differently and the way yours works is called autism.” If your child seems interested or wants to talk more, you can, but they might need to just process that first little bit for a while.

Some people think their kids won’t understand either because they’re young or because of where they are on the spectrum. I suggest that they probably understand more than many people give them credit for. Offering a simple explanation but keeping it age- and developmentally appropriate is worthwhile.

And something else: They might already know. For example, if your child is a little older, maybe they have read about an autistic character in a book and identified with him, but just haven’t told you. My oldest son read Percy Jackson and identified pretty quickly with the main character, who has ADHD. If they’re younger, they might not have the word “autism” yet, but they might already know that they are different in a fundamental way.

I think that one of the most important things to remember when talking to your kids about their diagnosis is to remove any negativity you might feel about their autism. You may not be happy about your child being autistic. But don’t let your child see that because they will likely see it as you not being happy with them.

With my kids, I try to present it not as a negative or a positive—just a neutral. This is the way your brain works. It’s not good or bad, it just is.

That said, just last night I was talking to Quinn about his diagnosis and said, “One of the reasons we brought you to your therapist was to get his expertise to figure out how your brain works. Turns out it’s awesome!” When in doubt, go positive.

It can also be a good idea to let your kids know that all autistic people aren’t the same. They might be confused if they know an autistic person who is really different than them, but has the same word assigned to them.

Know that your child may not react well at first. That’s okay. Let them have their feelings. Listen to them. Stop talking if they need you to. You don’t have to get everything out in one conversation.

My 10-year-old got an IEP prior to his diagnosis. When I told him about the IEP, he was really upset. He thought it would change things for him at school and he was really mad. I tried to address each of his concerns and didn’t push the subject with him. He is at peace with it now, but wasn’t initially. It might take time.

Kids also don’t always hear exactly what it is that you mean—they interpret your words in their own way. Be direct and use simple language. A few months ago, when we started taking Quinn to a psychologist for a number of reasons, including diagnosis, we talked to him about those reasons several times. One day he got really upset and yelled, “You and [the therapist] are trying to change me!” It isn’t what either the therapist or I wanted to do, we had never said that, and in fact we had said the opposite, but that was what he had heard. It can be a good idea to check in with your kids to make sure they’re hearing the message you’re trying to send.

Once he got his diagnosis, Quinn was pretty okay with it, although he’s been a little more cautious with it than Jack has. Jack is all about autistic pride and fully owns his diagnosis.

Quinn had a bumpier transition. When we had him evaluated, we told him that we were trying to get a better idea of how his brain worked so that we can figure out some ways to make things that are hard for him easier.

Once he was diagnosed and we told him, he didn’t really want to talk about it, but since that time, his self-awareness has been amazing. He has learned to advocate for himself and use tools like noise-canceling headphones and fidgets at school. He knows to ask for breaks. He looks ahead at things he thinks might be hard for him and thinks about solutions. It has been amazing to watch. I don’t think he would have made this progress without knowing about his diagnosis. [Quinn’s pretty awesome at being autistic. He’s rocking it.]

I wanted to come here tonight with some other points of view as well, so I asked some parents how they told their kids about their diagnoses. I got some great answers, all of which were positive, which is obviously not every experience. Here are some of the things they said about why and how they told their kids:

“My husband and I never doubted that we should tell him; I’d certainly want to know if there were an explanation for my biggest struggles in life and a community of people out there who shared my interests and characteristics.”

Before emailing me, one mom asked her daughter “if she was glad she knew she had autism, or if she’d rather she didn’t know anything about it, and she said she’s glad she knows, she’d hate to be living a lie.”

Another said, “My kids were diagnosed at 2 and 3. I laid the groundwork throughout their younger years in the way we’d talk about neurodiversity, about the way bodies and brains work, it was just always there in the background and in the words I chose to use with them. Then when we got to the diagnosis conversation (I think they were about 7 and 9), it was really just about putting a word to concepts that were already very familiar to them.”

I LOVE this next one. “Once we had gotten the final word, we sat him down, very casually, and told him that the doctor had “found out that his brain works in some really amazing ways” and that he might find some things difficult, but that mostly, he will find that he is a really incredible person, and that lots of people have brains like his, and that he is exactly the son we have always wanted.” [I kind of want every parent to say that last thing to their autistic kids. Perfect.]

One mom talked about being a non-autistic person talking about autism to her autistic daughter: “The way I’ve come to terms with the issue, now that my daughter is old enough to ask her own questions about autism, is to embrace my ignorance. I’ve become comfortable with admitting to my daughter that I don’t have the answers to her questions myself, but that I would gladly help her search for them. She is the explorer; I am the Sherpa.”

I also think it is important to continue the conversation about your kids’ diagnoses with them. Follow their lead if they have questions and don’t force them to talk about it if they don’t want to, but also don’t mention it once and then never talk about it again.

I do that by noticing when I see one of my kids struggling with something because of their autism or ADHD, I’ll tell them that is why. Or if they are doing great at something that stems from their disability, I will tell them that. Like, I’ll say, “Lots of autistic people have great memories. Your being autistic is probably what’s helping you memorize the periodic table so quickly.” [Jack seems to be doing this. It’s kinda freaking me out.] Or I’ll say “You get upset when you hear that noise because you’re autistic and sensitive to noises.” Sometimes I’ll ask them questions, like, “Do you know why you repeat those words over and over? It’s because you’re autistic. Lots of autistic people do that.”

Doing this keeps the conversation open and lets you keep checking in to make sure the message you want to send is getting across. It also opens the door for their questions. You can teach them that autism doesn’t go away and that there are ways to find its gifts and cope with its challenges.

The end! I think I mumbled something to close up my remarks and I had a bunch more to say in response to questions, but this is sorta my basic message. I also had a handout that had some suggested reading including the adolescent version of ASAN’s Welcome to the Autistic Community as well as a couple of posts I wrote a while ago about my diagnosis (I would not have given it that title if I wrote it today) and about Jack knowing he was autistic when he was young.

Hopefully if you’re working through this issue, this will give you some ideas on how to approach the topic.

Telling Kids They’re Autistic: I Want Your Stories

Hi, friendos! I will be speaking on a panel later this month aimed at parents who want advice on talking to their kids about their autism diagnoses. I have LOTS of things to say about this. My kids have known about their neurodivergence almost as long as I have. I think that it has helped them so much in terms of self esteem, self awareness, and self advocacy. I am hoping that in the future it will continue to provide them with these things as well as a community of people like them.

But much as I think my ideas are the best and only ideas in the world, I’m pretty sure they’re not. I’m interested in hearing your stories so I can share some of them (anonymously).

I am particularly interested in hearing from autistic people about when they learned they were autistic, whether as a child or an adult and how it affected them. I would also love to hear from parents so I can share some of your stories as well.

I’ve given you some prompts below, because I’m helpful that way. If you would be so kind as to tell me what category you fall into and tell me a little bit of your story (short or long), I would be so grateful. You can leave a comment or email me at

The presentation is at the end of the month, but I’ll be sure to write about some of your responses here as well after the event.

Your writing prompts:

Autistic people: How did you find out you were autistic? Who told you? How did they tell you? How did it change things? If you learned this later in life, how do you think it might have changed things when you were younger if you had known then? Do you have advice for parents who are thinking about this process?

Parents of autistic people: Have you told your child? Why or why not? If you have, what was their reaction? Do you think you made the right choice? Is there anything you would have done differently?

Autistic parents: Hi, fellow travelers! Let me know either or both of your experiences!

Also, you all are nice and extremely good looking and my favorites.

Jack’s Debut

Jack’s school play was this past weekend. After hours and hours and weeks of rehearsals, he performed Friday night and Saturday afternoon and evening. He was triumphant and delightful and hilarious and wonderful and totally Jack.

It’s not easy to cram all of that into a small role that mostly involves standing in one spot and not speaking, but he totally did it.

However, the experience as a whole wasn’t perfect. In fact, I just wrote and deleted seven long paragraphs about the issues I have with the way everything went down for Jack. What it boils down to is that often inclusion isn’t what we want it to be, especially in after-school activities. But then I decided that I didn’t want this post to be about all of that. I want it to be about my awesome kid.

It would be easy to look at his struggles and feel as if he was less than successful, but instead I choose to look at how tremendously kickass my kid is.

Without even telling me, he created a monologue and auditioned for a play. He didn’t know anyone in the cast and he sat through hour after hour of rehearsal where he was required to mostly sit on a gym floor and watch other people rehearse. He was brave enough to get up on a stage to perform in front of a crowd. He was willing to do all of this for a very small role. He did all of this while autistic. Any way you look at it, Jack did a great job.

He is so brave. I don’t think he is even aware of how brave he is. I tried to let him know that by buying a “shout out” in the play program.

Photo of an advertisement in the play program that says, "Congratulations, Jack! You are braver than you know. Team [Stimey] loves you!"

I hope he really understands this as truth.

Every performance that I watched—and I watched all three of them—left me grinning from ear to ear. I love my kid so much. And I am so damn proud of him.

Whenever I asked him if he’d enjoyed being in the play, he said he did. Honestly, that’s all that matters to me.

Photo of four kids dressed as security guards with linked, raised arms taking their bow on stage.

You deserved your applause, Jack. Every bit of it.


Still Alive!

Who is the motherfucking managing editor around here? Whoever it is has fallen down on the job, that’s all I have to say. November 4th? The last post was November 4th?


I don’t like that it has been so long. I hope to get back to a more regular posting schedule. I think it is mostly a matter of getting back in the habit and also figuring out how to use my laptop on my actual lap instead of at a desk, which is where I’ve always written before but where I spend far less time than I used to.

Anywho. I figured that since I’ve been away so long, I’d catch you up on stuff. Let’s see… Well, it’s December; how did that sneak up on us? We spent the Thanksgiving weekend decorating the outside of our house for Christmas because Alex says it’s less depressing to come home from work late at night when there is a festive deer and candy canes outside. I’m not sure what that says about his attitude about seeing us after a long day, but I’m not going to look at that too hard.

Photo of the outside of my house at night. there are lit up icicles, candy canes, a deer, and multi colored lights.

Look how preeeetttty!

As for Thanksgiving itself, we had a lovely day. We hung out and ate and we had a five-legged turkey.

Photo of a turkey that has five legs.

Did you know that you can buy EXTRA turkey legs? You should do it.

We call it a beetle turkey. It eliminates a lot of screaming at the Thanksgiving dinner table due to the traditional 3:2 children:turkey legs ratio.

Alex’s mom visited that weekend. Check out what she brought with her:

Five small cat figurines painted to look exactly like our cats.


These are amazing. She totally nailed all of their markings. Incredible.

So that’s Thanksgiving. What else?

Jack’s play is this weekend. I am so proud of him. He originally had two nonspeaking parts in the play, but at some point, the teacher eliminated the scene in which he had his bigger part, so now he has a veeeerrry small part somewhere in act two. But you know what Jack has done? He has spent HOURS at rehearsal. He has done so with good cheer and enthusiasm. He is ready to perform and I could not be more proud of him.

He has definitely struggled a little and I’m actually more than a little bit annoyed about some of the ways things have gone down over the past couple of months, but none of it is on Jack. He is a motherfucking champion. I’m so lucky he’s my kid. I’ll let you know how the play goes. I haven’t decided if I want to or should write about the stuff that’s pissed me off—most of it is how non-inclusive after school activities really are in practice—but I will absolutely come back and post photos of how awesome my kid is.

Sam is busy preparing for a test he has to take to get into the high school program he wants to attend. He’s also preparing for the three band concerts he has next week. The next seven or eight days are going to be pretty intense.

Quinn is doing pretty well. He has his ups and downs, but he is producing art like this:

A drawing of a cat wearing a black body suit, I think. There is a sash with a mustache on it and the cat seems to be wearing a fez.

Quinn’s imagination kinda rocks.

So, all in all, pretty all right.

Are we caught up? Am I properly chastised for my absence from this page? Are we all wishing Jack to break a leg this weekend? Okay then, I will see you soon!


I found the greatest product and thought some of you might be interested in it. It is a lycra bed sheet, but my family calls it a burrito. Quinn’s OT sent me a link to it because he loves OT swings and tools made out of similar materials and thought he might like it.

She. Was. Right.

Photo of Quinn in bed. He is under a sheet that is wrapped around his mattress. There is a cat on the floor by the side of his bed.

Quinn gave me the okay to post this photo because he thinks this might help other people. Also because you can see his cat who sleeps with him every night.

Basically, the sheet is a tube top for your mattress. When no one is under it, it lies completely flat, so when there is someone in it, it gives constant pressure, but it isn’t too hot or too heavy. It is a brilliant product.

Jack was immediately jealous so I got one for him too.

Jack under his black burrito sheet, pulled up to his chin. He has a huge grin on his face.

Jack looks a tiny bit happy, doesn’t he?

I love these. My kids love these. It totally fills a space in our home that was much needed. They come in lots of colors and, at $25 for twin size, it’s totally reasonable. I do have to say that when Jack’s came, it reeked of cigarette smoke, which makes me think that someone makes these in a smoking house. It was kinda gross. I just washed it before I put it on his bed and it’s 100% fine, but, still, kinda ick. You can always Google “lycra bed sheets” and find other places that sell them.

Sweet dreams!

Everyone Learned Something

School starts in less than two weeks, so it seemed like it was time to start work on my kiddos’ summer work packets. We are aaaaaalmost done with Jack’s math assessment test that he is supposed to do before he continues on to complete an hour of math each week during the summer through his school’s online math service.

God, we are losers.

Quinn is done. He didn’t have a lot. Or I didn’t see that he had a lot. Either way, really done or not, he is done done.

I think Sam is done with his math. Frankly, I’m too dumb to help him with it, so you’d have to ask Alex about that. I do know that he is still working on his reading stuff. He has to read two books and write about one of them. I know he’s still working on it because for the first book, he read the same book I just finished. Now, I’m reading a young adult book and he’s reading The Iliad for his second one. Showoff.

Jack had to read a fiction and a nonfiction book this summer. This posed a challenge. He enjoys reading, but he’s never been a chapter book reader, preferring comic books and other books with lots of graphics. I’ve spent the past four years buying every Diary of a Wimpy Kid-esque book I could find because he would deign to read (some of) them.

I’ve been working on coming to terms with him not being a voracious reader like his brothers. Books are a big deal in my life, so it is weird to me that there are people who just don’t love to read. I’m married to one, so I know you can grow up to be a happy, successful, non-pleasure reading person, but c’mon, books are our friends.

I can’t even count the number of books I’ve put in front of Jack, hoping that he’d love to read it only to have him get through one chapter and say, “But I don’t want to read Harry Potter/The Hunger Games/Danny, Champion of the World/The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”

Finding books for Jack’s summer reading seemed daunting. He and I did a lot of negotiating before he agreed to read the first Warriors book for his fiction book. Each day, I made him sit down and read a couple of chapters. He absolutely loved it—although when I asked him if he wanted to read the next one in the series, he was all, “no thanks!”

Getting him through that book wasn’t easy though. I’d have to remind him to read it and he’d ask for a break after every chapter. Considering this was a fiction book about cats, I was worried that he’d balk at the biography of John Adams I’d picked out as his nonfiction book.

I kid. But really I had no idea what to suggest. He doesn’t read nonfiction books.

But then I remembered. I remembered that he does read nonfiction. He reads it on the internet every single day when he pores over wikis about Mario and Luigi and various other Nintendo things. I searched online for books about video game history and found some. After consulting with him, I got him an adult-level chapter book and, without consulting with him, I also got him an illustrated history of video games.

I figured if he couldn’t hack the first book, I’d let him read the second book. If he liked the first book, I’d give him the second for Christmas. When Jack finished his fiction book, I almost didn’t even ask him to read the chapter book, considering jumping straight to the illustrated history.

But Jack remembered me asking him about the chapter book and when I told him he needed to start the nonfiction book, he said, “The Mario one? Can— I mean, do I have to read now?”

Then he sat down and read happily an for a long time.

Photo of Jack curled up in an armchair, reading a book.He’s been reading that book for three days and he’s on page 140. This is unprecedented.

Huh. I guess this is his way of telling me that he doesn’t want to read the stack of books *I* think he should read, but he would like to read something he’s actually fucking interested in, thank you very much, and I should (a) stop underestimating him and (b) offer him books of interest to him.

Well. It looks like I got my summer learning as well.