of asking broad questions, or informing
him about events or appointments days
in advance. Others were more subtle,
like being able to identify the right time
It was demanding and stressful, but
Grant made progress. Still, the family
struggled to adjust. In 2008 Gehrig
developed an eating disorder. Shonda
Schilling began seeing a therapist, and
she and Curt, then nearing the end
of his athletic career, entered couples
therapy. Asperger’s wasn’t just Grant’s
issue—it was a family issue.
Now, four years after Grant’s diagnosis, Schilling says she’s let go of a lot.
“I used to think that my kids’ performance in school and on the playing
field were my report card,” she says.
“If they excelled, I was a good mom.
If they didn’t, I had failed.
“Now I’m all right with the fact that
none of them is going to be a brilliant
student or a great athlete. They’re
happy and healthy, and I celebrate
what makes them unique.”
She also learned to relinquish the idea
of perfection. “I’m more compassionate
and less judgmental. Grant taught me
that I can’t achieve total control.”
Her husband’s 2009 retirement from
baseball enabled him to spend more
time parenting, and that, as well as
therapy, rejuvenated their marriage,
Grant, now 11 and in the fifth grade,
can still be exasperating. “It’s like
raising any other kid,” Schilling says.
“You think you’re on top of the
situation, and something else comes
up. At the moment we’re dealing with
inappropriately adult humor.
“We have to remind him that if
nobody’s laughing, it’s not funny.
“But Grant is incapable of playing
mind games,” she emphasizes. “His
love is pure and unconditional, and
when he hugs me, he means it.” n
Jan Lucas is an associate director
in University Relations.
21 WINTER 2011 towson In 2010 Shonda Schilling published an unflinching account of her and her family’s experience with a child on the autism spectrum. Soon after, The Best Kind of Different: Our Family’s Journey with Asperger’s Syndrome garnered widespread praise and a spot on The New York Times nonfic- tion best-seller list. Like many authors, Schilling says she fret- ted about how her book would be received. “I was very fearful at first,” she admits. “I wanted to treat the subject with dignity, respect, humor and sensitivity, but I wasn’t sure how readers would respond. “It has been 100 percent positive,” she says now. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say ‘You wrote my story’ or ‘I’m so glad I’m not alone anymore.’” Last fall Schilling accepted an invitation from the TU Alumni Association to return to her alma mater for a lecture and book signing in the Minnegan Room at Johnny Unitas Stadium, where she was welcomed with great enthusiasm. Proceeds from the sale of The Best Kind of Different benefitted TU’s Center for Adults with Autism. Although many of the book’s fans are the parents or relatives of a child with Asperger’s, Schilling says it also has attracted educators and others who applaud its emphasis on inclusiveness. “They tell me they like the message that we should try to be aware of differences and more accept- ing,” she adds. TU established the Center for Adults with Autism in 2008 with a grant from Therese and Douglas ’80 Erdman. The center focuses on young adults who are moving from schools with services geared to their needs to less structured environments with few support systems and limited opportunities for socializing outside of their homes. It educates professionals as well as functions as an integrated, interdisciplinary resource center for educators, researchers and families. –Jan Lucas ƒ BOOK OF HER OWN