Christine Weiss is an author, educator, and mom. As the parent of a child with autism, she found the home setting challenging and that having the right support system in place made all the difference. To help other parents raising a child who has autism spectrum disorder (ASD), Christine shares her mother-son experience in the memoir Educating Marston. In our one-on-one interview, Christine Weiss talks about family challenges, what led to the book, umbilical cord stem cell therapy, and more.
Disclosure: This sponsored interview focuses on challenges, tips, and information on parenting a child with autism to help families who want and need it. While every person and family is unique, this conversation may come at the right time for someone reading this. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases through the links below.
Interview with author Christine Weiss
Even with a very busy schedule, Christine took the time for this interview to educate and help those who might be struggling with raising an autistic child. I appreciate that. Our conversation covered many important areas, from feeling guilt as a mom to advances in stem cell research. We began by talking about the book’s origins.
You and your husband, Dr. Eric Weiss, co-wrote Educating Marston. Tell me about the idea of writing a book together.
I decided to write the book to help other parents like us. My son was born in 1995. The internet was in its infancy, and Google was not available. Having a child on the autistic spectrum at this time was very difficult. We went to multiple different hospitals, from Boston Children’s to Miami Children’s, and several in between. We were always seeking help, asking other parents, other doctors, and other therapists what else we could do.
Unfortunately, the rate of autism is increasing. We wrote the book to help other parents on this journey. We have acquired expensive knowledge on how to help your child and to cope both as parents and husband and wife.
As part of this journey, we learned about the potential benefits of Umbilical Cord Blood/ Stem Cell Therapy. It helped our son immensely. We also have a tremendous experience with this form of therapy, and we wanted to alert parents about its benefits.
What do you hope readers gain from the read?
What I hope readers get out of my book is a game plan to help their child. I know that all autistic children have different strengths and weaknesses. This book shows what I did and the information to investigate if these different therapies are useful for their children (websites and phone numbers included).
The book also shows how difficult the journey of raising an autistic child is and how to support the family in crisis.
Let’s talk more about your family journey. What tools did you use to prepare Marston to be more independent?
Preparing your autistic child for an independent life is a difficult task. The tools I used were trial and error, really. I hired a life coach and used repetitive instructions with reminders on his cell phone or pictures on a dry-erase board.
For example, I would tell Marston he had to do his laundry every Sunday afternoon. I would at first help him; then I would sit by and instruct him. Then I would call Sunday afternoon and ask if it was being done.
All of this taking a month of the same drill. (The activity would be on a visual dry-erase board with the day of the week and a picture of a washing machine and dryer on it). It still takes months of practice to perfect a task.
That takes patience as a family. How do you balance personal well-being with caring for your son?
I try to balance my personal well-being and caring for my autistic son. The act of balancing your life is something that is always being adjusted depending on the week, Marston’s needs, my other son’s needs, and the needs of my husband.
It seems mothers are always last, but our mental health is important. You cannot help others if you need help. So there needs to be a balance.
Find something that makes you happy, relieves stress, and clears your mind from worry. My son Marston has a job, and that takes a chunk of time out of his day. Working is something that gives him purpose, and he is extremely happy with his job. When my son is working, I try to be intentional with my time, exercising, yoga, a walk; something for me.
Some parents talk about experiencing guilt when raising an autistic child. Can you share about this?
The guilt that I feel, as a parent raising an autistic son, is for the other members of my family. I still feel guilty about activities I missed with my other sons.
I know they wish I would have been there. It is very difficult for a neurotypical child to complain because they feel guilty about their abilities comparatively. I am the sister of a special needs sister; I can attest to this personally.
I am now the mom of a special needs child. I understand you are just one person. You can only do your best and pray that your family sees and accepts this.
Thank you for being so honest. Can you share some parenting challenges, such as coping with Marston’s sensory overload?
My son did have sensory issues, which I address in the book. Every autistic child is an individual, but any of the senses can be involved: vision, touch, hearing, taste, and smell. Marston was no different.
The therapies I used to help him with these challenges are described in my book. Some of the therapies were daily patterning early on, the Mary Bolles sensory learning program, deep tissue massage, hyperbaric oxygen chamber, and the Visual and Conceptual Development Center.
How do you stay on top of the therapies available?
The way I keep on top of new therapies is the internet. I follow people on Instagram that are involved with autism, either mothers, researchers, or therapists. I read on new research going on in universities like Duke and follow mom groups on Facebook.
What do you wish you had known years ago about ASD and parenting a child with ASD?
What I wish I knew years ago about ASD is stem cell therapy. Cellular cures are real, and medical schools are doing lots of research in this field and are having amazing success stories.
I do believe we will find a cure. The brains of autistic children are inflamed, and if we can calm down or eliminate the inflammation with stem cells, then we can begin healing.
What is the feedback so far for your book?
The feedback on my book is very good. Parents, grandparents, and family friends of autistic children have read the book and believe it to be inspirational and a tremendous reference/guide for therapy. It also lets the grandparents and family friends understand the intimate struggles within the family. I do believe it is my purpose to help other parents, like me, along this very difficult journey.
Your purpose is beautiful. Thank you for being here, Christine Weiss. Any final words?
The best advice I can give a parent of a child with ASD is to do your own research. What works for some children may not work for yours.
Stay informed on what’s out here, and be aware of charlatans. You are the mom; you know your child better than anyone…. you are the expert.
Get your copy of Educating Marston
The memoir Educating Marston by Christine Weiss and Eric Weiss, MD, is available at Amazon and other leading online retailers, including Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Walmart, and Target.
Find out more about the book, the authors, stem cell research, and more through the Educating Marston website. You can also contact Christine and Eric through the website.
Top photo: Meet Christine Weiss. Photo courtesy of Christine.