A game-changing exploration of what the future holds for the first generation of mainstreamed neurodiverse kids that is coming of age.
After sleepless nights, intensive research, and twenty-one years of raising a child, Ethan, with autism and intellectual disability, Cammie McGovern is approaching a distinct catch-22. Once Ethan turns twenty-two, he will fall off the "Disability Cliff." By aging out of the school system, he'll lose access to most social, educational, and vocational resources. The catch is this: These resources, limited as they may be, have trained Ethan in skills for jobs that don't exist and a life he can't have.
Here, McGovern expands on her #1 New York Times piece, "Looking into the Future for a Child with Autism," a future that often appears grim, with statistics like an 85 percent unemployment rate for people with ID. McGovern spent a year traveling the country and looking at the options for work and housing--and to her surprise discovered reasons to be optimistic. She asks the tough questions: What should parents prioritize as they ready their children for adulthood? How do we redefine success for our children? How can we sustain a hopeful attitude while navigating one obstacle after another?
As Ethan makes his way into the world, McGovern also looks into the hardest question of all: How can we ensure an independent future when we're gone? Hard Landings will serve as a renewed beacon of hope for parents who want to ensure the fullest life possible for their child's future.
About the Author
Cammie McGovern is the author of three novels for adults, including Eye Contact; two books for young adults, Say What You Will and A Step Toward Falling; and two books for middle-grade readers, Just My Luck and Chester and Gus. All feature young people with a variety of disabilities at the center. She has been widely honored for her work advocating on behalf of people with disabilities and is one of the founders of Whole Children/Milestones, a resource center for children and young adults with disabilities and their families in Hadley, Massachusetts.
"An urgent, eye-opening look at the many systemic and well-intentioned ways adults with IDD are thwarted from living full lives. In this brave and important book, Cammie McGovern, a devoted mother, gifted writer, and tireless seeker of frontline problem-solvers, scours the country for successful solutions while asking herself the most searing and essential questions. And while much of what she finds can be frustrating, even confounding, the dignity and determination of her mission, and the passion and humanity of the advocates she meets, will make readers feel less alone and genuinely hopeful."—Rachel Simon, New York Times bestselling author of Riding the Bus with My Sister and The Story of Beautiful Girl
"Hard Landings is a fiercely intelligent book—patiently researched, conscionably hopeful, deeply essential. It is also a riveting read, powered by a mother’s certain love."—Beth Kephart, National Book Award finalist and author of Wife | Daughter | Self: a memoir in essays
"A brave and beautiful book—an indelible, soul-searching work of memoir and reportage in which Cammie McGovern crisscrosses America in hopes of learning what the future might hold for her autistic son. Combining a reporter’s eye with an activist’s passion, a mother’s ferocity with a poet’s sensibility, McGovern gives voice to one of the more pressing human-rights issues of our time: the millions of unseen neurodiverse people whose needs—starting with dignity and respect—remain unmet in our society. I was so moved and lifted by this book, by the people we meet here, and by McGovern’s empathy, wisdom, and humor. Truly—it's a book you won’t forget."—Michael Paterniti, author of The Telling Room and Love and Other Ways of Dying
"A gripping, touching and thought-provoking combination of memoir and reportage. McGovern is the mother of a son named Ethan who has autism and, in his early twenties, has 'aged out' of the American support system. McGovern tries to figure out what’s next, emotionally and logistically, for Ethan and the many young adults like him seeking to lead meaningful lives."—Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Rodham, American Wife, and Prep
"This country has a shameful history of neglect when it comes educating, housing and finding meaningful work for people with developmental disabilities, a population currently estimated at seven million. In Hard Landings, Cammie McGovern offers a scathing critique of past failings—by the government, by the culture at large, and by previous generations of her own family—but her real emphasis in on the future. In one of many stirring passages, McGovern describes how her own autistic son offers those around him 'a bridge to kindness.' And this marvelous book—at turns disturbing, beautiful, hilarious and heartwarming—serves the same function for readers."—Miles Harvey, author of King of Confidence, Island of Lost Maps, and Painter from a Savage Land