Jennifer Silverman is an optimist in a pessimist’s clothing. She lives, writes and agitates in NYC, where she is raising two boys, one of whom is autistic. Jennifer has most recently been published in Off Our Backs and Hip Mama, but has written for a variety of parenting publications and community newspapers. She has spoken about her experience raising her son while being an activist at conferences in Washington DC, Minneapolis, Providence and New York with m*a*m*a, a now defunct collective of radical mothers.
My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities
edited by Jennifer Silverman, Sara Talbot, and Yantra Bertelli
Pub Date: October 2009
Page Count: 336 pages
Size: 6 by 9
Subjects: Sociology, Parenting
In lives where there is a new diagnosis or drama every day, the stories in this collection provide parents of “special needs” kids with a welcome chuckle, a rock to stand on, and a moment of reality held far enough from the heart to see clearly. Featuring works by “alternative” parents who have attempted to move away from mainstream thought—or remove its influence altogether—this anthology, taken as a whole, carefully considers the implications of parenting while raising children with disabilities.
From professional writers to novice storytellers including original essays by Robert Rummel-Hudson, Ayun Halliday, and Kerry Cohen, this assortment of authentic, shared experiences from parents at the fringe of the fringes is a partial antidote to the stories that misrepresent, ridicule, and objectify disabled kids and their parents.
"A groundbreaking book…a collection of beautifully written stories, strange and familiar, incredibly open and well articulated, complicated and diverse: about human rights and human emotions. Wise, non-conformist, and absolutely punk rock!”
--China Martens, author of The Future Generation: The Zine-Book for Subculture Parents, Kids, Friends and Others
"This is the most important book I've read in years. Whether you are subject or ally, My Baby Rides the Short Bus will open you--with its truth, humanity, and poetry. Lucky you to have found it. Now stick it in your heart."
"Smart, diverse, inspiring. My Baby Rides the Short Bus reminds us of what we all have in common and how much more work there still is to be done."
--Vicki Forman, author of This Lovely Life: A Memoir of Premature Motherhood
"For the collection’s diverse and candid discussion of such topics as diagnosis, education, family, community support, respite and re-learning to stand up in order to be seen, heard, respected and believed, I hereby declare this book required reading for outsider parents of all stripes, their allies, school psychologists, therapists, social workers and child advocates!"
--Jessica Mills, author, My Mother Wears Combat Boots: A Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us
"If only that lady in the grocery store and all of those other so-called parenting experts would read this book! These true-life tales by mothers and fathers raising kids with "special needs" on the outer fringes of mainstream America are by turns empowering, heartbreaking, inspiring, maddening, and even humorous. Readers will be moved by the bold honesty of these voices, and by the fierce love and determination that rings throughout. This book is a vital addition to the public discourse on disability."
--Suzanne Kamata, editor, Love You to Pieces: Creative Writers on Raising a Child with Special Needs
"The contributors of this important and necessary anthology span a range of decades from a time when "defective babies" were institutionalized, to the nascent civil rights movement, straight on to a new era of independent living. The families sharing these stories live and often struggle with the consequences of illness, injury, genetic inheritance, or sometimes a perplexing and mysterious combination of factors, insisting that the world recognize a basic fact: "We are not science experiments.
Disability is a uniquely humbling and equal experience, sometimes expected, often striking without warning. These parents are honest about both the distressing and illuminating facts of their lives; the stories are caustic, exhilarating, fierce, funny, harrowing. Yet despite the intricate and often overwhelming challenges they face, these parents and children never succumb to maudlin stereotypes, because, as one contributor learns, "it isn't saintly to take care of someone you love."
--Bee Lavender, author of Lessons in Taxidermy: A Compendium of Safety and Danger
- Inaugural post
In which I post the first My Baby Rides the Short Bus blog entry...
Interviews and Talks
- Reflections From Parents With Special Needs Children: Here & Now radio show
- Radical Parenting: NYC Anarchist bookfair audio
- My Baby Rides the Short Bus on Forum: KQED
- Autistic Son: Interview with Jennifer Silverman on KFOG
- My Baby Rides the Short Bus: Misfit Matriarch
- My Baby Rides the Short Bus: Maximum Rock N Roll
- My Baby Rides the Short Bus: Feminist Review
- My Baby Rides the Short Bus: Hip Mama
- My Baby Rides the Short Bus: Modern Times Bookstore Staff Pick
- Activist Parents Speak Out in New Anthology: Bust
- Frank, diverse look at raising kids with disabilities: Times Union
- My Baby Rides the Short Bus: Daddy Dialectic
- My Baby Rides the Short Bus: Dallas Morning News Moms Blog
A Response to Unwanted Parenting Advice
June 7th, 2012
Three moms met on an online alternative parenting board, leading to hosting a 2004 disabilities and parenting workshop, leading to a zine on the same topic which lead to this amazing book. Edited by Yantra Bertelli, Jennifer Silverman, and Sarah Talbot, this book of essays by parents raising children with special needs was published by PM Press.
I can not relate, though I can cry and laugh at these honest and fabulously written works. I was lucky enough to find this book at a Kensington Market Pedestrian Sunday. You can find it on PM Press’s official site or visit and love your local library. For my readers residing near me the Oshawa Libraries do not have it but the Whitby Public Library does.
I highly recommend reading this book, which manages to evoke every emotion one may have.
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By Ri J. Turner
February 11, 2010
While there are many books available on parenting special-needs children, very few of those books offer an explicitly political analysis of the rights of special-needs families and of the systems that do or don’t serve them, and very few of those books acknowledge the experiences of parents who are out of the mainstream, whether due to race, class, gender identity or sexual orientation, disability, political beliefs, or lifestyle. Frank, engaging, and broad-ranging, My Baby Rides the Short Bus is a rare and precious treasury of these too-often invisible stories.
By Beren deMotier
My six-year-old son would ride the short bus if I could trust him not to assassinate the driver due to a failure to communicate. Parents of typical children might think I’m joking; the writers in this book know I’m not. My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities, edited by Yantra Bertelli, Jennifer Silverman, and Sarah Talbot, isn’t a collection of candy-coated pastiches of parenting challenging children in middle-class America, with a guaranteed feel-good ending. It is a no-holds-barred line-up of true stories so honest it’ll make you cry, queasy and spit out your coffee with uncomfortable laughter. The phrase “paradigm shifting” wouldn’t be fulsome praise.
As a prospective parent who has a disability, I ate up this amazing new collection of stories by parents parenting kids with a ride spectrum of dis/abilities, chronic illnesses and different. There's no angelic parents or telethon kids here- just true-life stories of real, complicated, alternative parents and kids dealing with the nitty-gritty everyday of disability, struggling against ableism and fighting for difference to be accepted, respected and accommodated. Ariel Gore said it's "the most important book she's read in years" and she's right.
Frank, diverse look at raising kids with disabilities
By ELIZABETH FLOYD MAIR
Kathy Bricetti writes of calling the police to her own home as a last resort when her 12-year-old son -- who's almost 6 feet tall and has Asperger's -- has three tantrums in one weekend, each more violent than the last. She's relieved that the officer is "calm and kind to Ben," and simply talks to him about the consequences of his behavior.
Hers is just one voice in the new anthology "My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities," whose contributors are parents who are themselves a little bit apart from the mainstream, whether single, gay, older, disabled or perhaps financially struggling.Read more | Buy this book now | Download e-Book now | Back to reviews | Back to top
I enjoy learning things from a book, those moments when you are stunned at what you just read, or shocked at some statistic, some point, some example. Those are the books I cherish. My Baby Rides the Short Bus was just such an experience.
My Baby Rides the Short Bus
By Nancy Churnin
Dallas Moms blog
The Dallas Morning News
October 28, 2009
Here's one book I wish I'd had during the dark days after learning my daughter has autism.My Baby Rides the Short Bus: The Unabashedly Human Experience of Raising Kids with Disabilities (PM Press, $20) is an anthology of first-person stories from parents about children facing an array of physical and intellectual challenges. Edited by Yantra Bertelli, Jennifer Silverman and Sarah Talbot, the book features real voices--mostly moms--about everything from the heartbreak of the diagnosis to the triumph in watching a child master a seemingly simple task to pragmatic advice like how to set up a Special Needs Trust.