RAISING A CHILD ON THE SPECTRUM
On December 26th, 1990 Marguerite Elisofon gave birth to premature twins: Samantha and Matthew. Marguerite and her husband soon noticed their daughter lagged behind her brother in ways that scared them. Samantha, they learned, was on the autistic spectrum.
Most “experts” weren’t optimistic about her chances for leading a normal life and prepared the Elisofons for the worst. But Marguerite and her family refused to accept these limitations. Twenty-three challenging years later, Samantha graduated from Pace University . . . cum laude!
In My Picture Perfect Family, Marguerite tells her family’s courageous story.
PIONEERING THEIR OWN WAY
At the end of the twentieth century, when the current supports for children on the autistic spectrum did not exist, Marguerite and her family had to pioneer their own path. They encountered “special” schools with questionable methods, naysayers telling them to lower their expectations, as well as their own worst fears of what Samantha —and their family—might become.
But nothing could shake Marguerite’s determination to hold her family together, and nothing could deter Samantha’s tremendous persistence, boundless energy and drive to succeed.
“My Picture Perfect Family is the story of a family’s dedication to helping their daughter succeed against all odds. The explosive 10-year-old who made no eye contact, talked to imaginary friends and turned out the lights in my office, blossomed into a beautiful 18-year-old who was able to go to college. Every time I saw Samantha, I felt I was taking a nail out of her coffin.”Dr. Harry Wachs
AN HONEST STORY
My Picture Perfect Family is not an idealized story. It’s a hopeful, yet realistic portrait of life on the spectrum that explores:
- The often-harsh realities of raising a child with disabilities.
- The challenges of raising twins—one with a disability—and how the Elisofons navigated the disparity between the two.
- Society’s misinformed and limited expectations for children on the autistic spectrum, and how they overcame them.
- The importance of sticking together—as a couple and a family—even in the face of great adversity.
“This heart-warming story gives the reader a thought-provoking and insightful understanding of how a mother warrior fought to ensure that her disabled child had the same access to education and other opportunities as any other without a disability. Marguerite shows us that autism is a condition to nurture, and that those affected can contribute to society, rather than be dependent on it.”Nuala Gardner
AN EXTRAORDINARY “ORDINARY” FAMILY
When you hear about autism, it’s often the extreme cases. But the vast majority of individuals lie somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Marguerite’s memoir is an inspiring account of how an “ordinary” family faced the challenges of raising a child with disabilities and achieved extraordinary results.
My Picture Perfect Family is a universal story about the struggles and successes of a family determined to leave no child behind. It’s a tale of unconditional love, a portrait of authentic parenthood, and a message of hope to all families.
Most of all, it’s a true story about never giving up on your child, or your family.
“This is a timely and important work about a topic that is going to be more and more a subject of interest in the intellectual marketplace. The (autism) spectrum is far wider and more complex than previously appreciated and My Picture Perfect Family adds to our understanding of how we must go about bringing out the best in and releasing the potential of these varied complex and interesting group of individuals. Parents will read learn and be both inspired and assisted.”Don Kerson, MD
“Therapies, education, and innovative programs will never be enough of a substitute for the support of a loving family. Marguerite Elisofon’s real-life account of her family’s journey is an example of what we should all strive for while celebrating the most ‘minuscule’ milestones and maintaining a sense of humor. As someone who continues to work through the challenges of Asperger’s syndrome, it was refreshing to root for Samantha and anticipate the victories that await her in adulthood. My Picture Perfect Family reminds us there is no such thing as a perfect family. Just those who are doing the best they can to navigate the labyrinth of Autism Awesomeness!”Jesse Saperstein
“In this brave and moving memoir, Marguerite Elisofon relives the battles and setbacks she withstood to give her daughter with autism a fighting chance. Her skills as a writer and her passionate advocacy for her child make My Picture Perfect Family more than just one family’s story: it’s a universal tale that will resonate with anyone who’s ever faced an unfeeling bureaucracy on behalf of a loved one. You root for her as she fights for her daughter to get the education and support she deserves, and cheer when that child, now a beautiful young woman, defies the odds to graduate from college and set out in the world. It’s a compelling and fascinating book that should inspire all of us to do more.”Barbara Peterson
“My Picture Perfect Family presents the powerful and engaging story of raising a child with autism, as well as a bittersweet memoir about family life. This first book from Marguerite Elisofon is a hard-earned victory, exploring heretofore inadequately touched territory that boldly delves into challenging content with a uniquely heartwarming touch that is both poignant and probative. A read not to be missed.”Jacob Miller
“My Picture Perfect Family takes an honest look at family life while raising a daughter on the autistic spectrum. In our social circles it is imperative that we appear perfect in every way, and that includes our children. But what happens when a high-achieving couple, seemingly with everything, must confront the fact that their daughter is ‘not perfect’? They love her, they fight for her, and she transforms the family into something stronger and more resilient than they might have been had they had that ‘perfect’ daughter. Humorous, bittersweet and instructive, Elisofon’s memoir brought me right into the heart of a mother who always believed in her daughter and never stopped trying to bring out the best in her. It reminds us that our job is not to live a ‘perfect’ life according to contemporary standards, but that we fully embrace and love what we have. For what we have is, without qualification, the true perfection.”Lynne D. Feldman
“This relevant depiction of navigating the world with a child growing up with autism encourages, educates and inspires. Marguerite Elisofon’s tells her story of how, through persistence, courage, creativity and humor, she and her husband recognized and strengthened the gifts of their unique twin children. My Picture Perfect Family is an important read for parents and professionals connected to the world of autism.”Allison Kleinman
“My Picture Perfect Family is a beautiful story of parental love and resilience. Marguerite Elisofon’s memoir of raising her two remarkable children is heartbreaking, honest, and filled with humor. It is the story of how Samantha Elisofon, the lead actress in my upcoming feature length film, became the outstanding young woman she is today. Samantha’s spontaneous joy and authenticity stand out on film as much as they shine on the pages of this inspiring memoir.“Rachel Israel
“Autism is not a new word today. But many readers may not be aware about the struggles and triumphs a family faces when a loved one has the challenge of autism. In My Picture Perfect Family, Marguerite Elisofon opens a door into the life of her family. We meet her daughter Samantha, and follow her as she evolves through therapies and social hurdles, schools and friends, family and her twin brother, into a young woman who graduates from her school at eighteen. May her story be an inspiration to other families who struggle with their loved ones every day through the message this book gives: ‘No matter what, keep the smile’.”Soma Mukhopadhyay
“My Picture Perfect Family tells the spirited and honest story of how Marguerite Elisofon and her family successfully found their way through life with a child on the autism spectrum. It’s an optimistic and inspiring illustration that if you refuse to give up or give in, you can, indeed, achieve your dreams.”Margaret Poggi
“With unabashed candor, My Picture Perfect Family opens the door to the events, feelings, and family dynamics of raising an autistic daughter. It is at once new and unfamiliar, yet filled with the same feelings of apprehension, disappointment, hope, pride and above all, the love that all parents feel for their children. Her tale is both touching and powerful. We end up learning what the cognitive and emotional variations of spectrum disorders are in a way that no clinical approach ever could. Of course the book is a must-read for those interested in the subject; but the appeal is for all parents, whose children’s trials and tribulations are their own, intensified here by the prism that creates* the autistic spectrum.”Alan Wikler, Psy.D