All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Theresa by Kim Stagliano – Book Review

All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Theresa: A Life Raising Three Daughters with Autism by Kim Stagliano
Published by Skyhorse Publishing

If you can’t tell from the title of the book, Kim Stagliano is in the unique and unenviable far more common than I realized and unenviable, to many, position of having three daughters who have autism, a condition which more typically affects boys. This, combined with her husband’s incredibly bad luck with employment – he had a tendency for many years to take employment with companies who would not have a need for him after a short amount of time – has made life in the Stagliano household a bit chaotic. Kim has a very pragmatic attitude towards her life, however. She makes the point that autism (and unemployment, for that matter) don’t take time off, so neither can she, really as a mother you just do what you have to do.

“All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Theresa” could have easily been one giant downer between the challenges of raising three daughters with pretty severe autism (one daughter gets lost twice in a single family trip, panicking Kim both times) and having multiple job losses and financial crises. However, enough of Stagliano’s wit and humor shines through, keeping the book, well, perhaps not light, but at least not depressing.

Anyone interested in autism or the lives of families living with autism would do well to pick up “All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Theresa.” You may not agree with everything Stagliano says and believes (there is a LOT of controversy around autism issues), but you will absolutely learn a lot.

Buy this book from:
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound.*

This review was done with a book received from the publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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15 comments to All I Can Handle, I’m No Mother Theresa by Kim Stagliano – Book Review

  • I can’t imagine being the mother of 3 autistic children. I guess you’d have to hope that you had a healthy sense of humor!

  • Sounds like you captured a reality TV show in a book! Thank you for the tip — I’ll look for Kim Stagliano’s book.

  • The idea of that blows my mind. My two, who are clinically “normal” (although sometimes I wonder), drive me nuts. I’d be interested in how she copes. She deserves a medal.

  • Three autistic children? Wow. My nephew is autistic and I’ve got to be honest here: when my sister became pregnant with her second child, we had some serious, serious talks about the wisdom of bringing another one into the world. Thankfully, the second child does not appear to have problems (beyond the so-called normal problems all of our children have). But three? Wow.

    I’d be interested to read the book if only to find out if the author addresses this.

    • She does address it somewhat. Her oldest daughter didn’t have the diagnosis when she got pregnant for the second time and it seemed like, honestly, they thought that the odds had to be in their favor with the third child but, more than that, they felt that they were not supposed to be done having kids yet, so they went for it. Kim’s doctor did make sure she knew she had the option to terminate the pregnancy, but she wasn’t interested in doing so.

  • I’ve got to get this one. I work with families with children with autism and I can’t imagine having three children with that challenging diagnosis.

  • I know someone who has two autistic sons and her husband is out of work – I have to get her this book!

  • Wow, that makes you wonder just how much one person can handle.

  • The reality is that there are a good number of families out there with multiple children on the spectrum. My writing partner Kathleen and I run the Autism Blogs Directory. We have over 400 blogs relating to autism and disability linked on our site. Kathleen and I are both parents to several children on the spectrum, and we have several bloggers who have three, four, and five children on the spectrum.

    I would invite readers who are interested in how we cope with having multiple children with issues to read some of our bloggers. Many do it with grace and a great deal of humor. Others use their blogs to vent their frustrations and bitterness. Together, though, we form a community that supports each other (and occasionally engages in some serious sparring over ideological divides).

    Some of the parents represented on the directory might indeed welcome outsiders’ pity, but most of us simply want empathy when we’re out with our children and they do something that strikes you as odd. Don’t assume we’re bad parents and they’re bad kids.
    Give us a nod, a commiserating smile, help if we look like we could use it, a compliment if possible.

    We do what we do as parents, we handle it however we handle it, because we are their parents and we love our children. They are delightful and every victory, no matter how small, is hard-won for our children. We do not take any progress, any milestone for granted.

    mom to three wonderful children on the spectrum

  • Laura

    Everyone in my household has an Autism Spectrum disorder; myself, my husband, and our two children. There have been a number of struggles common to families with Autism, but there is also an abundance of joy, and warmth in our lives.

    It seems to me that almost every family, regardless of whether the children and/or adults have special needs, has it’s unique set of challenges that would make others say things like “Wow! I can’t imagine living with anything like that!” But we all do. We live with and play the hand we’re dealt, because there is no other choice. And for most of the people I know, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • I totally agree with Kim and Laura. I would not trade my life for anyone else’s. I have two amazing children and a loving husband. The only think I would change is the people who don’t get how wonderful my child on the spectrum truly is.

    My problem isn’t with my family, so please if you read my book, don’t pity me or assume my life is tragic. It isn’t. The only thing tragic is the mean girls who bully the main character, who was loosely inspired by my daughter’s story, and yes she was victim of bullying.

    By the way, my book has a happy ending. Maybe you should read it. It’s Delightfully Different. The story is fiction, but I wrote it under a pen name to protect my child from further bullying and our family from pity.

  • Oops,there are two typos in my previous post which is why I love editors. {chuckle} I wanted to also add that I do appreciate those who try to educate themselves about autism spectrum. I guess you can tell by the responses that comments that involve pity are a hot button for many families. Maybe I should have put that in my book too. lol

    • Yes, I got that from Kim’s book too. It is the first reaction of most people, I think, because they cannot imagine their lives with hurdle X, Y, or Z, but it makes perfect sense that nobody wants to be pitied or told that their life is pitiable. I really did like Kim’s response to “how can you possibly handle that?” It is her life and her reality and she handles it, and although things can be tough, that doesn’t mean that she has a crappy life or that her family doesn’t love and adore one another.