Stories From the Heart: My Brother Cem

Hello, my brother Cem is 16 years old. He is 98% recovered from Autism. He has been on a gluten-free/casein-free diet since 1998.

After my mom read William Shaw’s book “Biological Treatments of Autism And Pervasive Developmental Disorders” we visited the US for a specific therapy named “sensory learning” done by Mary Bolles in Boulder Colorado. My brother had some tests, and we realized that he had Candida ,so he had to quit eating wheat and drinking milk.

As we live in Turkey, it was hard to find GF/CF food because my lovely country was unaware of the need for gluten free foods and at that time these kinds of GF/CF foods were unavailable in Izmir. My mother was ordering some cake mixes from internet but the delivery unfortunately took 2 months by shipping.

In 2002 I visited my cousin who was studying in Nice/France. Her and I both tried to find the specific gluten-free casein-free store and it was so hard to find. It was raining that day so we decided to find the address from the internet and the following day we have finally reached the store.

The store was full of people buying one or two things necessary for the next days but me and my cousin had filled the cart with many, many cakes, pastas, soy puddings, cookies, breads, and rice milk. Pretty much a lifetime supply.

And guess what had happened? All the people in the shop stopped buying and started to look directly at us like we were nuts! But we ignored their weird looks and put all the food into a suit case and carried it out and walked all the way from the GFCF store on the fancy streets of Nice to our flat.

At the airport I had to pay 150€ because of the heaviness of the suitcase. Finally, back at home my dear brother was screaming like crazy when he saw all the food he could eat without any prohibition.

By Gulser Vardarci

* Stories From the Heart is an ongoing series of user contributed heart warming stories, that shine light on the Autism experience.

Soup du Jour! Dad the Hero

As a Chicken Soup co-author I’m always looking for your stories to share with everyone else.  Not too long ago I did a “call out” to my members asking for heartwarming stories and was overwhelmed with over 2500 submissions.  I know you will enjoy hearing from others so I am going to be sharing them with you on a weekly basis.  Here is one from Dan Coulter!

Dad the Hero
(by Dan Coulter)


Dads, did you ever imagine yourself as a superhero?  Sure you did. I have a mental picture of you as a little kid, in your underwear, with a towel tied around your neck for a cape. You’re jumping off the bed and running through the house pretending you’re superman. In your mind, you can fly. You save the day.

The circumstances change, but we all hold onto a bit of that hero dream.

We dads have another dream that starts when a child is born. What he’ll be like?  How she’ll grow.  What we’ll do together.

But when a child has Asperger Syndrome, that dream can veer off course.

It can be frustrating when he or she doesn’t follow the script in our heads, when he continues to do things after we tell him not to or when she can’t seem to understand things that seem obvious.

And let’s face it. Most moms are better at the unconditional acceptance thing than most dads.

Even if we love a child with Asperger Syndrome, we’re more likely to hang onto our expectations and occasionally be impatient as he grows older – sometimes more than occasionally.

That’s where the hero part comes back in.

On the real-world hero scale, being patient with a child is not the same as running into a burning building to save a life, but it’s still a challenge.  It’s everyday heroism.

Everyday heroism strives to understand how a child with Asperger Syndrome feels when he tries his hardest and still gets teased or rejected by kids and criticized by adults. To accept that he can be doing the best he can –and still misunderstands what you want. To not just correct her when she’s wrong, but to help her practice doing things right, and praise her when she succeeds. To let go of old expectations, and help him live up to his capabilities.

The earlier we start the better, but it’s never too late to make a difference. To be the father he knows he can turn to. The father she knows she can trust.

Some dads are natural everyday heroes. The rest of us have to work at it.  But natural or self-made, everyday hero dads often find their children succeeding in surprising ways. Sometimes in ways they never imagined possible.

If you’re not there yet, your family story is casting for a hero. And the part has your name written all over it. You can save the day.

Save the child.

Your child.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dan Coulter is the producer of the DVD, “Asperger Syndrome for Dad: Becoming an Even Better Father to Your Child with Asperger Syndrome.” You can find more articles on his website at

Copyright 2010 Dan Coulter     All Rights Reserved.    Used by Permission.

Soup du Jour! Parenthood Brings Autism into the Open

As a Chicken Soup co-author I’m always looking for your stories to share with everyone else.  Not too long ago I did a “call out” to my members asking for heartwarming stories and was overwhelmed with over 2500 submissions.  I know you will enjoy hearing from others so I am going to be sharing them with you on a weekly basis.  Here is one from Jennifer Pedde!

Parenthood Brings Autism into the Open
(by Jennifer Pedde)

One of the main story lines in Parenthood, NBC’s popular television series about a large extended family, focuses on the issues facing parents Adam and Kristina Braverman. In addition to the usual problems experienced by parents of a teenage daughter, Adam and Kristina have had to adjust to their 8-year-old son Max being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. 

Jason Katims, executive producer of the show, is the father of a teenage son with Asperger’s. Thanks to the involvement of Katim, as well as series consultants Sheila Wagner and Roy Q. Sanders, who are experts in autism spectrum disorder and Asperger’s syndrome, Parenthood is helping to educate viewers about what life is like for families who are affected by Asperger’s. Child actor Max Burkholder, who does not have Asperger’s, should also be credited for his sensitive portrayal of Max Braverman. 

In early episodes of Parenthood, Max is depicted as being gifted in many areas but with limited social skills, few friends and a tendency to become obsessed with subjects that interest him. A teacher recommends that he be tested for autism following a classroom disruption, and he is subsequently diagnosed with Asperger’s. Adam and Kristina then begin a quest to find the best solutions for both Max and their family.

Kristina in particular, becomes frustrated when there are no easy answers for the problems Max encounters in school and at home. Emotionally, she feels the need to protect her son; intellectually, she knows that she must help him learn to be independent and survive on his own. Adam, on the other hand, must cope with feelings of loss that Max will never be the exact son he imagined.

Following Max’s diagnosis, the approaches tried by the Bravermans reflect approaches tried by many real families in the same situation: They move Max to a private school, receive funding to help with his care, set up an in-home therapy program, find and lose a caring in-home therapist, and then send Max back to a mainstream school so that he will be academically challenged. This is television, so Kristina and Adam are probably able to try new approaches much more fluidly than they would in the real world, but their journey effectively serves to illustrate the various strategies that can be employed to manage Asperger’s.

Now in its second season, Parenthood has expanded on the situations related to Max’s behavior and involved more members of the extended Braverman family. In one episode, 11-year-old Max gets into a fight at school with his younger cousin Jabbar and is told he must write a letter of apology. Max feels his actions were justified since Jabbar hit him first and refuses to comply. Kristina, who is learning to let go, asks Max’s older cousin Amber to help out. We see how Amber gets Max to write the letter and then coaches him on how to behave when he delivers it to Jabbar. Knowing that he needs to look someone in the eye when apologizing is not instinctive to Max, but he is beginning to learn how to behave in ways that are socially acceptable to everyone else.

For more insight into the issues faced by the Braverman family related to Max’s condition, you can read an analysis of each Parenthood episode by Sheila Wagner and Roy Sander in “The Experts Speak” section of the official Parenthood website.

Jenn Pedde is the community manager for the Online Masters Degree in Social Work program at the University of Southern California in the Virtual Academic Center, which offers a variety of classes in their mental health social work concentration. She’s also an avid traveler, and enjoys photography.

Soup du Jour! Basketball Players Changed Tanner

As a Chicken Soup co-author I’m always looking for your stories to share with everyone else.  Not too long ago I did a “call out” to my members asking for heartwarming stories and was overwhelmed with over 2500 submissions.  I know you will enjoy hearing from others so I am going to be sharing them with you on a weekly basis.  Here is one from Charisa Spatig!

Basketball Players Changed Tanner!
(by Cherisa Spating)

My son Tanner was diagnosed with PDD/NOS at age 8. He is now 11 and a total sports junkie. Our story starts last year at this time. I had received a paper from his school that the High School Boys Basketball Team was sponsoring a 3 day camp for the kids in our community. Tanner so wanted to go. He had watched all these boys play football and loved every minute of that. I was a little leery to send him. So being the over protective parent I called the mom who was in charge. Her name is Melissa and she has become a great friend since this. I told her a little bit about Tanner, and that I would be more than happy to come to the camp and knew he would love it. She suggested assigning him a “partner”. I thought that was a great idea. Little did I know how much that would change my son’s life?

The day of the camp came, and Tanner was thrilled he got to go. We got to the school and there is this 6 foot 2 redheaded kid, a junior in high school waiting for Tanner to get there. His name is Tyler, and that kid has been my angel sent straight from heaven. He took Tanner and said see you at 8. They not only taught him basketball skills they have taught him much more. I love this entire High School Team. Not only have they kept him involved in all they have done over the last year. He has been invited to high school graduation dinners, got to sit with the team at all their home games. Tanner can tell you which kind of Gatorade drink each of those boys will have during the game.  Every member on the Football and Basketball Team know him, and it doesn’t matter where we are they always talk to him.

So now with the 2011-2012 season starting Tanner is again at basketball camp, but this time he doesn’t need to have a one-on-one. Although Tyler is not far away, he is enjoying the game just like everyone else his age is. All the senior boys Tyler, Matt, Rocco, Will, and their Coach Bubba will never know how much they mean to Tanner and our family. Because of this team and their support to Tanner he has joined a Baseball Team, Special Olympics, and is now known as t Evanston, Wyoming High School Red Devil’s # 1 Fan.

NEW Inclusive Programming – Uncover the Pitfalls, Challenges and Path to Success

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Inclusive Programming for Students with Autism & Asperger’s Workshop – 4 DVD Set!


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• Quality indicators
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• Social skills assessment & curricula
• Elementary, middle, high school!
• Strategies for modifying academics
• Strategies for transition issues
• Encountering and eliminating bullying
…and much more!


This special 4 DVD presentation presented by Sheila Wagner, M.Ed. will examine the process of behavior analysis for teachers that have students with autism spectrum in general education classes. This setting poses challenges that must be considered in light of this disability, zero tolerance and student needs. Too often, inconsistent behavior plans leave students and teachers confused as to why behaviors return. This lecture will identify the key components for analyzing the inappropriate behaviors and identify ways to improve student performance, increasing the likelihood for inclusion.


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DVD4: Teaching Strategies for Inclusion Strategies [39.95]
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