I had the pleasure of meeting Seattle author Eileen Garvin at the reading and book signing for her memoir, How to be a Sister: A Love Story with a Twist of Autism, at Village Books in Bellingham, WA. Her book addresses her life growing up as the neurotypical youngest of five, with her slightly older sister, Margaret, affected by severe autism.
Eileen read a particularly funny passage from the book, which she also mentions in her recent interview on Rosie O’Donnell’s radio show, in which her mother and sister met her for dinner at a nice restaurant in Seattle while she was in college. Eileen’s sister Margaret was unable to appreciate the servers singing, the special draw of the unique restaurant. I won’t spoil the story, but do listen to the radio interview and read the full story in the book if you can. If you have a child or sibling who suffers from a disorder that affects behavior, you will find it oh too familiar. Eileen is gifted at identifying the humor in each difficult situation.
Eileen’s book addresses the scarce understanding of autism at the time of her early childhood some 30 years ago. She says that the book chronicles how her relationship with her sister changed over the years as they’ve grown and how they were able to forge a new connection as adults after Eileen went away to college for several years. She wrote the book because there are very few resources available for neurotypical siblings. She said, growing up, siblings often feel overshadowed by the energy and effort that their sibling’s disorder demands from the family.
Eileen was a pleasure to meet and her writing is thoughtful, clever, honest, and full of wisdom. I do recommend it to any parent or sibling of a non-neurotypical child. Her book is available at Target stores and on-line.
Lorraine Wilde is a freelance journalist, environmental scientist, and mother. Her work has appeared in Entertainment News NW, Ithaca Child, and on the parenting web site Neighborhood-Kids.com. She is writing her memoir, and also blogs at My Wilde World.