Autism Awareness Blog Hop 2019 + Giveaway!!

Autism Fact:

Research demonstrates that job activities that encourage independence reduce autism symptoms and increase daily living skills.


Welcome to the latest blog post on the sixth annual Autism Awareness Blog Hop, hosted by the wonderful RJ Scott. I don’t think there’s anyone in the world today who doesn’t have a friend or family member who is either on the autism spectrum or who supports someone close to them who is. My own dear mom used to run a Brownie troop for some autistic teens at our local school, and it was always a blast helping her out on free afternoons.  It’s an honor to be a part of something that endeavors to reduce the stigma surrounding autism and to generate donations for this very worthy cause.

The theme this year is childhood toys, which ties in nicely with some thoughts I’ve been having lately about storytelling and superheroes. A kind of origin story for myself as a writer, I guess. Watching Captain Marvel recently, I thought of how much I wish I could have seen a film like that when I was a nascent geek. But then I remembered that I did have my own version of Captain Marvel in She-Ra, Princess of Power.


Though I started out playing with Star Wars action figures, I quickly graduated to She-Ra and her fantabulous, kick-ass friends. There was so much to love. She-Ra was both outspoken Princess Adora and a fearsome fighter with a secret badass identity. She flew around on a crystal Pegasus. She had a legion of friends with multicolored hair and cool powers — one had a peacock fan! One had butterfly wings! One had long twisty pink and lavender braids! One was cold as ice in shades of blue! (No, I don’t remember their names.)


Some kids spent their afternoons outdoors. I could always be found in my bedroom, my imagination transforming every possible surface into some alien landscape against which my girl power dramas played out. There were epic battles — not stereotypical cat fights, but those of sheildmaidens who could smoke you with a roundhouse kick — betrayals, conquests, and adventure. The kind of tales a little girl seeking her very own heroine’s journey might tell herself in the privacy of her creative space. It’s where I learned to be a writer, where I learned to be me.

The stories we tell ourselves in childhood influence the adult we will become, which is why it’s so important that families with autistic children have the support they need to make sure their kids get a good start on learning to be themselves and have every chance to be independent adults. I hope you’ll consider a small donation, either to Autism Canada or RJ’s preferred charity, Lindengate.

To read all the posts and join the hop, here’s the master list.

And this wouldn’t be any fun at all without a giveaway! What was your favorite childhood toy? What inspired you to be a writer? Comment below to win a free copy of any one of my books! (Please include your email address in the comment.)

Much love,


Spotlight: IZ Adaptive Couture for Wheelchair Users

Thanks to the wonderful folks at the Marilyn Denis Show, I recently found out about an amazing Canadian fashion designer named Izzy Camilleri, who has created the world’s first, and so far one of the only, fashionable clothing lines tailored specifically to the needs to wheelchair users, IZ Adaptive. This is one of those ‘duh’ ideas that you don’t realize is so obvious, so needed, and so wonderful until you hear about it–of course people who are seated all day, every day will need special kinds of clothes, which take into account some of the health issues that surround lack of mobility.

These can range from pressure sores and organ settling to circulation and bladder issues. Something as seemingly innocuous as pockets on the back of jeans can cause sores that might take a seated person almost a year to recover from. More companies are recognizing the need to get into the adaptive clothing game, but, in this regard, Camilleri is a true trailblazer.

Camilleri used to do fashion editorials for the likes of Angelina Jolie and David Bowie. Her work has appeared in Vogue. But when, in 2004, a wheelchair-using journalist approached Camilleri about designing a cape for the winter, the experience proved inspirational, and the idea for IZ Adaptive was born. But you should hear it from her:

It would take five years for her to open her online store. She also has a studio in Toronto where you can view clothes by appointment. Ten percent of all proceeds from sales of her designs go to building access ramps in communities across North America. There’s also a T-shirt you can buy here, 100% of the proceeds of which go towards their “mission of making the world a more accessible place.”

The best thing about her women’s and men’s lines is that Camilleri makes, as Kate Matelan from New Mobility magazine noted, “on-trend fashions that don’t necessarily look adapted.” Everybody should have access to clothes that make them look fabulous, and with Camilleri’s team’s special adaptations, which she honed from working with wheelchair users for over a decade, they can. (The web site ships internationally.) As Camilleri herself notes in Matelan’s piece: “I always say the clothes are secondary to what they deliver. They offer a sense of self, personality, dignity. They’re more than just an article of clothing.”

Please help me get the word out about IZ Adaptive. And if you know of any wheelchair users looking to spice up their wardrobe, send them Camilleri’s way: Because Fashion IZ Freedom!