Video: Interview with Marguerite Elisofon and My Picture Perfect Family: What Happens When One Twin Has Autism

My Perfect Family Book CoverOn 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.

At the end of the twentieth century, when the current supports for children on the autistic spectrum did not exist, Marguerite and her family pioneered 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. Addressing not only her disabilities but also her talents, the Elisofons discovered Samantha was a lyrical soprano with perfect pitch. They encouraged Samantha to take singing lessons at age ten, and she gradually developed a strong enough voice to perform the national anthem at Pace University’s 2014 freshman convocation.

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.

Meet the Author

Marguerite ElisofonMARGUERITE ELISOFON is a New York City writer and the author of My Picture Perfect Family, a memoir about how her family navigated life with a child on the autistic spectrum before the internet and support groups existed. She also blogs about parenting young adults and disability related issues in The Never Empty Nest, which was featured on Fox 5 News. Her essays have been published in literary magazines such as: Existere: Journal of Arts and Literature, Write for Light, Hobo Pancakes, Wild Violet and Kaleidoscope. A Vassar graduate, Marguerite was born and raised in New York City, where she still lives with her husband, Howard, in their mostly-empty nest.

Check out our other interview with Marguerite:

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