By the age of two, Ryan had lost his ability to speak—twice. Sensing it was more than typical “second child” behaviors, his mother, LeeAndra, embarked upon a mission to understand why Ryan had become withdrawn and violent, and was met with a devastating answer: her son is autistic.
After a few months of behavioral treatment, Ryan experiences remarkable success. He begins to communicate, learns to adapt to his surroundings, and after attending a special educational preschool, where he thrives, he seems ready to be mainstreamed into a regular classroom for kindergarten—an exciting prospect for LeeAndra and her husband Dan, since until this point they have been reluctantly resigned to the idea that he will continue indefinitely in special education. But, Ryan’s success is rapidly derailed as he swiftly learns how to manipulate his inexperienced aides through violence and begins to flee school grounds, and LeeAndra and Dan must make a choice: agree with what the system dictates or listen to their hearts and make a drastic change?
LeeAndra Chergey, writer of the inspirational memoir, “Make a Wish for Me: A Family’s Recovery from Autism” will appear for an Author Night speaking appearance on Thursday, June 22 at 7:00 p.m. in the Library Community Room. The inspiring story has been very positively received and reviewed. The free program is presented by the South Pasadena Public Library, the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, Kiwanis Club of South Pasadena, and The Institute for the Redesign of Learning, popularly known in the community as the Almansor Center. Special thanks to the South Pasadena Council PTA Special Needs Committee
When LeeAndra was told that her son, Ryan, was no longer considered “normal,” she and her family were forced into a new way of handling the outside world. Together, Chergey’s family and a team of carefully chosen therapists, put in years of hard work, and eventually taught Ryan to speak and express emotions. Through it all, Chergey followed her heart—and in the process, she learned that being “normal” is not nearly as important as providing one’s child with a life full of joy, love, and acceptance. Tender and candid, “Make A Wish For Me” is a story of accepting and tackling a disability stigmatized and misunderstood by society.
LeeAndra was born in the Midwest, but grew up in a rural area south of Los Angeles. She holds a BA in English from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and runs her own home staging business. When she’s not writing, she can be found running, knitting, or reading. Married for more than twenty years to her college sweetheart, Dan, she has two children, Jenna and Ryan, and a black lab, Ranger.
The South Pasadena Public Library Community Room is located at 1115 El Centro Street. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. No tickets or reservations are necessary. Refreshments will be provided and copies of “Make a Wish For Me” will be available for purchase.