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Obituary: Kim Stagliano, 86, Leaves Three Autistic Children Behind

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I'm getting old. I can see gray hairs hiding in my tangle of brown curls. My laugh lines don't seem to vanish when I stop chuckling. And while my bustline isn't truly sagging (I never could take that pencil test) it does seem to be a bit, well, diminished. If good things come in small packages, I must be great.

I could probably use several shots of Botox to fill the furrows in my forehead. Don't get me started on my belly button. I think cosmetic surgeons refer to it as a "winky" after the droopy shape that follows three pregnancies. Fortunately, my lips are still full so I'm off the hook for the collagen injections. Small favors.

Even if I did resort to cosmetic surgery to try to fool the world, and myself, I know that I'm growing older every day. And one day, I'm going to become dirt. Dead. Gone. Worm food. Today I got a slap in the face reminder of what that will mean.

A friend named Ray, whose own son Eric is in residential care because of his autism, sent me a copy of this obituary. It catapulted me into my future.

Leila Simon, aided son, state's disabled

When he was growing up, Leila Simon's son did not speak. He could not dress himself, and he wandered off when no one was watching.

The daily struggles of David inspired a lifelong mission for Ms. Simon, who headed a statewide parents' group that advocates for New Jersey's mentally disabled population and was appointed to serve on the state's Council on Developmental Disabilities.

Leila Simon, age 74, died and left behind a son who sure sounds like he has autism. Her obituary made me deeply sad and worried for a man named David Simon, whom I do not know. A child who no longer has a mother to look after him. But the obit also shocked the heck out of me as I read:

She told The Star-Ledger that although David Simon had appeared a normal, healthy baby when he was born, he had suffered an adverse reaction after a vaccination when he was 18 months old.

My God. Was David Simon a healthy baby whose vaccines induced his disability many years ago? And we're still having the debate how many years later? With now thousands of children diagnosed with autism? I find that so disheartening.

This obituary added a few gray hairs to my head. And worries to my heart. Who will care for my girls when Mark and I are gone? They have no typical siblings. Can cousins who barely know them be expected to step in and assist them? Not realistically. Their autism has wiped us out financially already. We won't have money for private care for three adults for a lifetime. My beautiful girls will be at the mercy of the state.

Do you think we parents of kids with autism are loud and unruly now? Are you tired of us raising Cain about our kids' plight and seeking cures and treatments with a fervor that borders on obsession? Want us to please be quiet and just go away? Wait until we die, and leave you to care for our precious kids. It's coming. I can see the future. Kim Stagliano, 86, Leaves Three Autistic Children Behind.

Rest in peace, Leila Simon. Live in peace, David Simon.

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