Autism Awareness Event at Livermore Library

Missing Jigsaw Puzzle Piece

In celebration of National Poetry Month, National Library Week, and Autism Awareness Month, Autism A to Z’s founder, Cynthia Patton, will host a special autism awareness event at the Livermore Civic Center Library, 1188 South Livermore Avenue, on Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 7 p.m.

Called Audacious April—A Celebration of Autism, Poetry and Libraries, the event will also feature Matteo Musso, a pre-verbal autistic teen who communicates and writes poetry (even a book!) through the use of a letter board.

If you have ever wanted to learn more about the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM), this is an excellent opportunity! Come experience it in person and learn more.


Don’t know what RPM is? Come and see for yourself. The Rapid Prompting Method has made an enormous difference for autistic individuals with no or limited verbal abilities such as Matteo and Cynthia’s daughter, Katie.


Cynthia will read selections from her book Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism (Finishing Line Press, 2016) as well as newer poems dealing with autism. She will also unveil a poem written in honor of our library. Matteo will read poems he wrote using RPM and has graciously offered to answer questions. Cynthia and Matteo will both have books available for sale.

Please join us for a very special event on April 12th!


The Power of Passion

filler-169581_1280I recently re-read Ira Sukrungruang’s An Open Letter to Anyone Who Will Listen #SAVECITYUMFA. It was written two years ago, in 2015, long before the 2016 Presidential Election turned the world on its head and tossed us all down the rabbit hole.

In his letter, Sukrungruang reflects on the loss of a specific writing program, but also on the dwindling support for arts and humanities in general—an issue that I now must grapple with as my community’s Poet Laureate. I read his words and was reminded, once again, that the most powerful advocacy is that which is fueled by the heart.


No matter what the issue, passion is what truly makes advocacy sing. Yes, Sukrungruang is a writer—a clearly gifted one—but heart and passion are the fuel that sets his advocacy on fire.

As the parent of a special needs child, I know all to well that heart and passion are often a double-edged sword. There is nothing we as parents are more passionate about than our kids. We need to channel that passion in order to become effective advocates. Because with passion comes strong emotion.

Strong emotion is like a stranglehold on the mind and the throat. It can make someone panic or go crazy with fear. Some parents fight. Some shut down. Others flee. When our child’s future is at stake, it can seem like a life or death struggle of epic proportions.


So what can we as parent advocates do?

Most importantly, we need to harness our passion and keep it in check. This is a tricky balancing act. For me it’s often helpful to bring a trusted family member or friend to Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meetings, particularly when I was beginning my advocacy journey. The friend served several purposes: witness, note talker, bad cop (to my good cop), brainstormer, and sounding board. But most importantly, she kept me calm and centered. This is more of a psychological or emotional benefit, but as a single parent without a partner, it was crucial to not go in alone. A friend also typically has more emotional clarity and detachment, which is why I recommend this strategy so often to parents.

I had a friend who came with me to numerous IEP meetings early in my daughter’s school career, and I owe Karen a debt I can never repay. After she moved to another state, I began to bring Barb, another close friend who is a retired special education teacher and my daughter’s reading tutor. In the past I’ve brought in-home therapists and case managers as well. I hope one day to get to the point that I don’t need to bring someone with me to my daughter’s IEP meetings, but maybe I never will. That’s okay. Because the point is to discover what works (and doesn’t work) for you the parent, as well as for your special needs child.


The bottom line: use your passion and love for your child to supercharge your advocacy efforts. Just remember to keep your emotions in check.

Autism A to Z Now Registered with AmazonSmile


Want an easy way to donate to Autism A to Z? Try AmazonSmile. Never heard of AmazonSmile? The following should help.

What is AmazonSmile?
AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon that lets customers enjoy the same wide selection of products, low prices, and convenient shopping features as on The difference is that when customers shop on AmazonSmile (, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to the charitable organizations selected by customers.

How does AmazonSmile work?
When first visiting AmazonSmile, customers are prompted to select a charitable organization from almost one million eligible organizations. In order to browse or shop at AmazonSmile, customers must first select a charitable organization. For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the customer’s selected charitable organization.

Is there any cost to charitable organizations or to customers?
No. There is no cost to charitable organizations or to AmazonSmile customers. The shopping experience is identical to with the added benefit that the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate to the charitable organizations selected by customers.

Do you charge any administrative fees or take any deduction from the donation amount?
No. Charities must register to receive donations and have a valid bank account to which we can route donations, but there is no charge to participate and we do not deduct any fees from the donation amount.

East Bay Gives 2016

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East Bay Gives 2016 is one week from today, on Tuesday, May 3. It’s a 24-hour day of online giving. Autism A to Z is an approved non-profit recipient. Please donate whatever you can and share this post with family and friends. Help support Autism A to Z and the work we do. ‪#‎AutismAtoZ‬ ‪#‎EastBayGives‬

Literary Event to Benefit Autism A to Z

Chicken-Soup-AutismAutism A to Z will be hosting a very special autism awareness event on Saturday, April 23, 2016. Called Celebrating Life on the Spectrum, it will feature poetry and prose dealing with autism spectrum disorder read by Bay Area authors Connie Post, Anne K. Ross, and Cynthia J. Patton. Marilyn Kammelgarn will join them to read selections from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Raising Kids on the Spectrum. 

Connie Post was the Livermore Poet Laureate from 2005 to 2009, and is the author of Floodwater, When The Sun Drops, and Trip Wires. She hosts the Valona Deli Poetry Series in Crockett, California.

Anne K. Ross is an award-winning writer and school psychologist. She recently published Beyond Rain Man: What One Psychologist Learned Raising A Son on the Autism Spectrum.

Cynthia J. Patton’s award-winning work has appeared in twelve anthologies, including the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, print and online publications, and her blog, An Unplanned Life. Her poetry collection, Across An Aqueous Moon: Travels in Autism, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. She is completing a memoir on her unconventional journey to motherhood.

The free event will take place on Saturday, April 23, 2016, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Bothwell Arts Center, 2466 8th Street in Livermore, California. A book signing will follow the reading. Proceeds from the event will benefit Autism A to Z.