Sunday, March 18, 2007

MTV Program: True Life: I'm Autistic

I admit that I'm not always a fan of MTV programming, but I applaud what they aired on March 18th. The program True Life: I'm Autistic profiles the lives of three teens living with varying degrees of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as they go about their daily lives and pursue their dreams.

The remarkable young men include:

Jeremy, 17, who uses a simple portable speech machine that allows him to finally communicate directly with his peers.

Jonathan is an autistic savant, the term used to describe someone who has a significant disability and exceptional talent. Jonathan's talent is painting.

Elijah is 16 and has Asperger's symdrome, the term applied to higher-functioning autism. He wants to be a stand-up comedian.

The program does an outstanding job of letting the story tell itself as each of these young adults, with the amazing support of their incredible parents, pursue their life dreams in the face of a complex, often frustrating disability.

For more information on the program, and to view a clip of this terrific show, visit the MTV website:

This is the kind of responsible programming that MTV can be proud of- and a valuable media effort that can help others have a greater appreciation for and understanding of autism and other disabilities.

Another terrific resource for those interested in learning more about autism is the documentary Normal People Scare Me. For more information on this and other important film projects in the works by the mother/son film team of Keri Bowers and 17-year-old Taylor Cross, who has autism, visit:

Both looks are worthy of your time!
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Spartans Make Us Proud

Okay, so my Spartans came up a bit short against UNC in last night's NCAA Round two game. But they gave us a thrill, leaving everything they had on the court and allowing even the most doubting fan to believe that the seemingly impossible might just happen afterall. What a thrill ride!

Like most Spartan fans today, I couldn't be prouder of this team. They showed guts and resiliency, tons of class, and a never-give-up attitude, a tribute to their terrific coaching. The best news for Spartan fans this morning is the realization that all that tremendous talent, plus some new blood, is coming back.

Last night, this group of exceptional young men gave the nation a preview of coming attractions. The Spartans served notice--they will be back. And while MSU may have ultimately been beaten by a deeper bench and some remarkable athletic talent, in no way is this team a loser.

If there's one thing I love it's seeing a perceived underdog rise above the tough odds, silence the naysayers and create some magic. That's just what this team did in 2006/07. Unfortunately, this Cinderella story ended too soon

But just wait until next year....

Congratulations to Coach Izzo and the men's MSU Spartan Basketball Team! Thanks for another great season!
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Go Green!! ...Spartans not Leprechauns

Sometimes you just gotta put aside your focus on all things special needs and try to put some much-needed balance back into your life. That's what I'm doing today.

I'm a wee bit Irish (aren't most us?!?) so my focus today is all about being green. But I'm not talking about the green of Leprechaun lore and colorful beverages that make you a wee bit giddy.

I'm talking about MSU Spartan basketball!

I admit I'm not much of a sports fan, although I have suddenly adopted my husband's life-long passion for Tiger baseball. You live together long enough, and those kind of strange things begin to happen.

But I do love my Michigan State Spartans (my alma mater). I'm a big fan of coach Tom Izzo, who with all his coaching fame seems to still have his head on straight, and his ego in check. Plus, he's built a terrific program focused on nurturing, even demanding, the responsible growth of his players both on and off the court, something alone worthy of recognition. Each year, Izzo's program is filled with talent, integrity and class, and good kids.

How often can we use those words when talking sports today?

NCAA tourney time, complete with the Green & White, comes along just when us hearty Michiganders are in desperate need of some real proof that winter weather is almost history. That sleepy groundhog 'Pete' just loves tormenting us with that all shadow no shadow stuff...... But if Tourney time is here, it must be Spring, right?

Today, my team, a #9 seed, is clearly the underdog in the NCAA round two game with the highly favored #1 seed, North Carolina. That's a fact, we know it because they say it's so in all that rabid media coverage by all those people supposedly in the know.

But the Spartans and their die-hard fans are used to being underdogs, especially during football season when we have to boldy face my twin sister's alma mater, the Michigan Wolverines. That record? Not so great.

But we're talking basketball now, folks. Being the underdog is a role that we Spartan fans even relish at times. It makes us who we are. 'Cause just when the bulk of the positive kudos is going to the other team, the big Green machine likes to sneak up and spoil the party-- and screw up the odds.

And that's exactly what those of us who bleed Green/White are hoping will happen tonight!

Afterall, today is St. Patrick's Day, the day when we celebrate and honor all things green, right? And there's nary a Wolverine in sight....

Go Spartans!

May the Luck 'O the Irish be with you tonight!
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Thursday, March 15, 2007

San Francisco/Bay Area Campaign- A Writer's Dream!

If there's one thing you learn fast as an author in today's publishing world it's this: If you want your book to stay alive in the competitive publishing marketplace, you had better be willing to help promote and market it, continually. (Btw: that often means hiring a publicist, so budget for it! I'm fortunate to have Kathlene Carney on my team. But I digress...).

I know most wannabe authors don't want to hear about their role in promotion and marketing. Afterall, most writers would rather be sitting on their behinds doing what they love most--writing. I understand well that passionate, creative, gypsy like urge that makes us want to hide out and weave words together.

It is what we do, afterall.

But promo/marketing/media interviews is part of today's publishing world. It goes with the new territory and those expecting otherwise (with rare exceptions of the 'Harry Potter' magnitude) will be disappointed, even disallusioned if left unprepared for this surprising reality.

Like other businesses, the publishing industry is dealing with on-going reductions in budgets, staffing and bottom lines. That means authors are expected to step up and fill the void. Plus, authors know their work best. No one is as vested in the book's outcome or how it is received in the public eye than the writer, who lives and breathes the work for months, even years. Once the flush of the initial publishing courtship dance is over, the new author must promote, too.

That said, I've just completed one national radio campaign, although some of the interviews are still to air. Everyone I worked with was terrific! But I'm already movin on. After a few stops in between, including the Bucks County Conference near Philly, I'll be heading to the San Francisco/Bay area in April, and I couldn't be more delighted. The Bay area is home to my publisher, my editor, my publicist, and until recently, my agent, who's now exploring life in Oregon.

Lots of good folks call the Golden State home, and I have been the beneficiary of some of their great publishing expertise. Plus, it's just beautiful country. It's no wonder people leave their hearts there...

In case you want to know more, here's that campaign info!

(Please check back often – schedule subject to daily updates.)

Judy Winter, award-winning writer, national speaker and the author of Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations, will hold a talk and book signing at Towne Center Books, 555 Main Street, in Pleasanton, CA on Friday, April 20th at 1 p.m., and at the Pleasanton Library, 400 Bernal Avenue, CA on Monday, April 16th at 7 p.m. The author will also be a guest on the KNTV program Bay Area Today on Monday, April 16th and on KGO-TV's The View from the Bay on Tuesday, April 17th. Judy will conclude her visit to the Bay area with a presentation at the Resolve NC Adoption Pathways Symposium at the Bay School Campus in San Francisco on Saturday, April 21st. For more on Judy's schedule and her on-going work on special needs, visit:

Detailed Schedule:

Monday, 4/16/07-Bay Area Today-NBC Affiliate KNTV-TV/ 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Monday, 4/16/07—Public Affairs Show, Alice • KLLC, Live 105, and Movin' 99.7 (Taped-TBA) • San Francisco, CA

Monday, 4/16/07—Author Event • 7 p.m. • Pleasanton Library • Pleasanton, CA

Tuesday, 4/17/07-Benefit Magazine Radio Show with Ruby Rippey Tourk/ Interview Taped-Airdate TBA /San Francisco, CA

Tuesday, 4/17/07-Guest on The View from the Bay, KGO-TV (ABC affiliate), 3-4 p.m. PT/ San Francisco, CA

Thursday, 4/19/07—Conversations with Robin Fahr, TV30 Tri-Valley Community Television (Taped-TBA) • Pleasanton, CA

Friday, 4/20/07—Author Event/Signing • 1 p.m. • Towne Center Books • Pleasanton, CA

Saturday, 4/21/07—Presentation/Book Signing: Adoption Pathways Symposium/The Bay School Campus • San Francisco CA a.m.

Saturday, 4/21/07-Interview with Peter Finch-KFOG Morning Show, San Francisco, CA/(Interview taped-Airdate TBA)

PLUS-Another Interview on the East Coast!
Friday, March 30: Live Interview on The Lisa Birnbach Show / 9:15 to 9:45 a.m./ New York City/
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Facing the Unexpected

Do you have those days when you wonder if the universe is working overtime in the tough-news department solely for your benefit?

I'm not talking about what's being covered by Wolf Blitzer in the CNN Situation Room. I'm talking about the kind of real-life drama that immediately disrupts our daily personal lives and schedules and messes with our heads-- and with our hearts, no matter what other wonderful stuff is coming our way.

In the past few weeks, I have taken in the shocking news/funeral of the suicide of a friend's teenage son, the threat by another, breast cancer within my closest inner circle, a friend's surgery, the senseless murder of the wonderful gallery owner of the charming venue where I held my book release party last year, and the fourth anniversary of my son's death. All this, while good things continue to happen in my professional life.

It can be tough to catch your breath or enjoy your successes when this kind of news just keeps on coming at you. Unfortunately, I've had more than my share of practice in coping with bad news in life. Perhaps, that makes me more skilled than most when it comes to survival.

This kind of news always serves as a humble reminder of how fragile life really is, and how important it is that we live it well each day. Someone more jaded might call these simple words trite. My life experiences has proved them true.

When life deals us and those closest to us the toughest of news, how do we cope well? How do we boldy emerge from under the covers and take on the dicey adventures of another day?

Me? Well first, I take a really deep breath or two and then let them out, along with some powerful tears, a few choice words and ultimately a prayer. Then, I go write. 'Cause purging myself through the written word is how I have always coped best with life's sometimes crummy, unpredictable twists and turns.

Writing it all down completely unedited never fails to help me set my emotional demons free and regain my least for a little while. That footing then allows me to move forward in more productive ways, maybe even offer a much-needed shoulder, some chicken soup, or supportive words on a beautiful card to a hurting friend. That kind of human action and warm touch offers healing both ways.

Now, how about you?
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Sunday, March 11, 2007

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month

Did you know that March is Brain Injury Awareness Month?

Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI as it's more commonly known, is one of those injuries that can happen to anyone at anytime. If you or a family member is living with the results of a traumatic brain injury, first, know that you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) each year approximately 1.4 million Americans sustain a blow or injury to the brain that may result in on-going special needs.

For more information on living with TBI, visit the Brain Injury Association of America where you can download a free Brain Injury Awareness Month Kit:

And please, make sure that your kids, and you, wear helmets when riding bikes and scooters or engaging in risky sports. That's just one way that you can help reduce the chances that a TBI will impact the lives of those you love most.

This is one disability that you can help prevent.
Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Honoring Dana Reeve's Legacy

Amid all the so-called news about Britney and Anna Nicole and yet another American Idol controversy, it hardly seems possible that this week also represents the first anniversary of the death of someone worthy of our attention.

Dana Reeve was a remarkable human being, and one great example of how to live life well under the toughest of circumstances. At a time when our society is in dire need of positive role models, Dana Reeve is deserving of our pause, our reflection and yes, our news coverage. As I continue my work on special needs, Dana Reeve remains one of my greatest life examples and I will not forget her.

It seems like only yesterday that the shocking news of her lung cancer diagnosis, and ultimately her death, was reported in the media. Because I had interviewed Dana Reeve for my book Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs just weeks before her diagnosis, the news hit me hard. The loss of both Christopher and Dana Reeve was a blow to those of us who care deeply about improving the lives of individuals with special needs.

Few in history have done as much as this terrific twosome did to create much-needed awareness of the value of those with special needs. They recognized the critical need for good research, resources and support to address the daily struggles faced by millions of people with disabilities worldwide. They made crucial political inroads with policy makers in Washington.

Their passionate, ground-breaking work and advocacy should never be forgotten. It must continue. Theirs is a solid foundation upon which other valuable special needs advocay work is being built today.

In the words of Christopher Reeve, we must go forward.

That's why I encourage you to recognize this important anniversary by supporting the work of their foundation, work that is today spearheaded, in part, by the Reeve's children. To learn more about about how you can help honor the lives of these two special needs giants and continue their legacy, please visit what is now called the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation at, and consider giving a gift. It's one simple way to make sure that your voice is heard, too.

That is exactly what I am going to do...cause I am so over the whole idea of Britney and Anna Nicole and naughty girls gone American Idol as newsworthy...

Please join me in paying tribute to something that really matters.

Breakthrough Parenting for Children with Special Needs: Raising the Bar of Expectations