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5 Things Parents of Children with Autism Want You To Know

One in 68 U.S. children has an autism spectrum disorder. That’s a whole lot of parents feeling misunderstood and alone. Here’s what these parents want you to know.

Autism isn’t one size fits all.

Nicole Ramage says, “It’s important to know that it is a spectrum disorder. Just because one child is nonverbal and low functioning doesn’t mean they all are.” She adds, “And every child isn’t ‘Rainman’ either.”

Lindsay Crapo explains a common misconception is that people with autism have a hard time with feeling and emotions. In her son’s case, it isn’t that he lacks the ability to feel, but that constantly feels every emotion at once. “The difficulty lies in separating them,” she says.

Daily life is challenging.

Kelley Bravener says routine is essential. Planning for a simple trip to the grocery store often takes longer than the actual errand. Crowds, unfamiliar people, transition, changes and new places are all triggers. Another part of day-to-day life is the near constant battle with insurance companies and school districts to obtain the services to which a child is entitled. Keeping a child safe from wandering off or hurting himself is a never-ending worry. Basically, all of this is exhausting.

Their parenting choices are constantly judged.

Because their child’s special needs are invisible, many parents of children with autism feel judged when their child has a public meltdown or exhibits behavior others find unusual. Amanda Larson has had strangers comment on her allowing her daughter to play with electronic devices during dinner at a restaurant; however, it is a survival tactic so the rest of the family is able to enjoy the meal. The constant judgment can be tiring even to those parents with the thickest skin.

They are desperate for a place fit in.

Kathy Peterson is relieved to have finally found a place her family feels safe, loved and appreciated. They searched for a long time for a community where her teenage son could be himself and feel included without being expected to act like all the other kids. They’ve never found that environment with a school setting, but they did find it at church. Jennie Skrobisz advises to listen when a child with autism speaks “because it will likely be profound.”

They can love their child, but hate autism...or they may see it as a gift.

Michael Shelah says, “I love my son with all my heart and if you told me we could remove his autism and let him have a typical life, but it would require violently ripping off my arm, I’d do it. I love my son and hate autism.”

Rachel Vogelsong has a different point of you view: “I don’t need my child to be fixed or cured. It’s my job as his mom to help him find ways to make the world make sense for him. His unique perspective is a blessing.”

So how can you help these parents? Start by bringing them a cup of coffee and a muffin. Then, ask what you can do.

Mark Your Calendar

Walk Now for Autism Speaks at the Clinton Presidential Center
Oct. 18, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

This signature event for Autism Speaks generates funds for autism research, raises awareness and connects local families. There is no fee to walk in the event, but each participant who raises at least $150 will receive a commemorative t-shirt. The one-mile family fun walk begins at 10:25 a.m. This year, runners can also participate in the 2nd Annual Arkansas 5K, held in conjunction with the walk event. The run begins at 7 a.m.; registration is $20, plus an option $5 for a 5K t-shirt. For info:

Staff Picks: Wedding Movies

Image by Shutterstock


Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Add a couple hours worth of cooky antics and you’ve got a hit movie. We adore watching love stories unfold on the silver screen, especially when they end in weddings. No matter how messed up everything gets, in the end, it’s perfect.

We asked some of the Arkansas Bride Staff what their favorite wedding-featured movies. We can already smell the popcorn.


Devan — Bride Wars

Haley — Sweet Home Alabama

Erin — Beetlejuice

Lindsey — My Best Friend’s Wedding

Brandy — 27 Dresses

Jess — It Takes Two


Ok, that’s it. Somebody queue up the Netflix.

5 Events for Weekend Fun: Oktoberfest, Fossils and a Glow-in-the-Dark Race!

Image by Mark Friedman

Get excited! This weekend, Oct. 10-12, is packed with amazing events for families. The Arkansas State Fair celebrates its 75th anniversary, and will even host a free parade in downtown Little Rock this Saturday, Oct. 11 (read more in our full article here).

Plus, Magic Screams stirs up frightening fun at Magic Springs Water & Theme Park, Columbus' ships sail into Little Rock on the Arkansas River, and pumpkin patches are in full swing! And, don't forget to check out our list of October festivals and fairs to see what else is going on this weekend.

In addition to all of those exciting extravaganzas, here are five more events for families:

1. Oktoberfest & StoryFest at Fairfield Bay Conference Center: Fairfield Bay offers two festivals in one weekend! OktoberFest includes German food, motorcycle rally, car show, arts and crafts, live music and dancing. StoryFest celebrates the rich and diverse art of professional storytelling. Join the festivities at 9:30 a.m. and dive into all-day storytelling sessions, featuring the talent of Bill Lepp and Tim Tingle. Free for Oktoberfest; $10-$15 for StoryFest. OktoberFest is: noon-10 p.m. Oct. 10-11; the motorcycle rally is 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 11.; StoryFest begins at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 11. For info: (501) 884-4202,

2. Fossil Day at Museum of Discovery: See fossils found across the world and in Arkansas, learn how fossils form, meet a paleontologist, enjoy a dinosaur tinkering activity and get a preview of the new dinosaur exhibit coming to the Museum of Discovery in November! Included with general admission: $10, kids 1-12 are $8, under 1 & members are free. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 11. For info: (501) 396-7050,

3. Angel One 5K at Two Rivers Park: The Angel One 5K is a fun run/walk organized by the Angel One crew to help families of children transported to ACH. After the run, stay for the festivities, which include bounce houses, appearance by Scout, the ACH mascot, and an ambulance and helicopter. Many children are transported long distances to ACH for the special care they need. The proceeds from this event help the Angel One crew provide financial assistance when needed to families. $30. 8 a.m. Oct. 11. For info: (501) 364-1476,

4. IllumiNight 1K/5K Race in Downtown Conway: Blackbird Academy hosts the second annual glow-in-the-dark 1K/5K race fundraiser. Art vignettes such as musicians, dancers, and glow-in-the-dark displays will be incorporated throughout the race. Everyone is encouraged to deck themselves out with their craziest neon colors and glowing accessories for a chance to win specials prizes at the end of the night. Registration prices: $30 for 5K & $20 for 1K. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10. For info: (501), 336-8200,

5. Fall Canoe Float at Pinnacle Mountain State Park: Paddle your way through Pinnacle’s majestic lowland river to glimpse large cypress trees and a variety of wildlife. No paddling experience is necessary, but you should be comfortable around water and wear shoes that can get wet. Advance payment required. $40 per canoe. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Oct. 12. For info: (501) 868-5806,

For more events, browse our full online calendar here.

Johnny Cash Exhibit Opens in Little Rock Oct. 10

Image by UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture

Johnny Cash strumming his guitar onstage in Hot Springs, October 1968. Courtesy: UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture.

The UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture unveils a brand-new exhibit about one of Arkansas' greatest musical legends, Johnny Cash. Opening in downtown Little Rock's Underground Gallery in the Arkansas Studies Institute this Friday, Oct. 10, "Johnny Cash: Arkansas Icon" illustrates the profound ways in which Arkansas affected Cash's music.

The exhibit explores the life of the Man in Black through never-before-seen photographs, newspaper images, historical documents, audio recordings and other memorabilia. Visitors will discover Cash's Arkansas connections over the decades, from his 1930s childhood in Dyess to his comeback in his later years.

The exhibit's opening day celebrates Cash's music with three concerts on Oct. 10, including Billy Nesbitt's performance for local schools (10:30 a.m.). As part of Second Friday Art Night, the Shape Note Singers from Mountain Home will perform at the exhibit reception from 5-8 p.m. And at 6:45 p.m., Jeff Coleman and the Feeders will bring their sound to the Ron Robinson Theater, to be followed by W.S. Holland Band at 7:30 p.m. All performances are free, but seating is limited.

The exhibit will be open for field trips; click here for more information. Teachers can also access lesson plans and educational materials to before and after visiting the exhibit; click here for teacher resources.

"Johnny Cash: Arkansas Icon" will be open from Oct. 10-Jan. 24. The Underground Gallery at the Arkansas Studies Institute is located at 401 President Clinton Ave. in downtown Little Rock. The gallery is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mon.-Sat.

For more info, visit

Pictured above: Cash strums his guitar on stage in Hot Springs, October 1968. Courtesy: UALR Center for Arkansas History and Culture.

Magic Springs Transforms into Magic Screams Oct. 11-Nov. 2; Win Tickets from Little Rock Family

Image by Magic Springs Water & Theme Park

A trick-or-treat trail, haunted houses, and thrilling rides -- Magic Springs Water & Theme Park transforms into a Magic Screams, the ultimate Halloween hang-out for families from Oct. 11-Nov. 2. Plus, Little Rock Family will be giving away tickets to our readers each Wednesday in October (more details below)!

Here are five things your family will love at Magic Screams!

1. Kiddie Treats

On the trick-or-treat trail, kids can play games for candy prizes. Kiddos can also brave the haunted house made especially for them, called "Shiver Me Timbers." The pirate-themed attraction offers a milder experience for smaller children. Or, hop on one of the kids' rides for a little thrill.

2. Coasters and Rides

Bigger kids can take a whirl on some of their favorite Magic Springs rides and coasters, including the SkyShark, X-Coaster, The Gauntlet, Wild Thang, Big Bad John, Ozark Mountain Taxi Co., Razorback Roundup and the Carousel.

3. Haunted Houses

In addition to the kiddie haunted house, "Shiver Me Timbers," Magic Screams features two themed haunted houses. Braver souls can wander into the two terrifying attractions -- "Psychophobia" and "Paradox."

4. Superhero Fun

The fun isn't all frightening -- superhero fans can participate in a superhero-themed contest at 6 p.m. on Oct. 11 for a chance to win up to four 2015 season passes. Contestants will have the first chance to meet and greet Wolverine; a public meet-and-greet will be held immediately following the contest, and will be followed by a screening of Despicable Me 2. All three activities will take place in the Split Rock Grill.

5. Movie Screenings

New this year, families can catch a classic Halloween flick at the Split Rock Grill. Movies shown include Despicable Me 2 (Oct. 11-12), Corpse Bride (Oct. 18-19), Beetlejuice (Oct. 25-26) and Monster House (Oct. 31, Nov. 1-2). All films begin at 7:30 p.m.

Ticket Info

Tickets are $29.99, children over 3 and under 48 inches in height $19.99. $10 discount tickets are available at area Walgreens, or visitors may bring a non-perishable food item and receive a $5 discount. Food items will be donated to the Project Hope Food Pantry in Hot Springs.

Tickets can be purchased online at

Little Rock Family Giveaway

Little Rock Family will give away two admission tickets to Magic Screams each Wednesday in October (Oct. 8, 15, 22, & 29). Visit our Facebook page each Wednesday and follow the instructions for your chance to win!

Weekend To-Do List: 13 Events to Check Out

Image by Mark Wagner

There's live music, soirée's (had to), and various theatrical performances to enjoy this weekend. Here are just a few events to check out. Enjoy! 

Thursday (Oct. 9)

Argenta Block Party at Argenta Farmers Market, 520 Main St., Little Rock: Don't miss out on the chili cook-off, hot dogs, live music and Loblolly ice cream at the Argenta Block Party on Thursday. The fun goes from 5-8 p.m. 

Arkansas Symphony Orchestra's Rockefeller Quartet at Capital Hotel, 111 W. Markham St., Little Rock: Come enjoy the sounds of ASO's Rockefeller Quartet at a free concert Thursday evening at Capital Hotel in downtown Little Rock. The show is an hour long and begins at 5:15 p.m. 

Beer & Bräts at MacArthur Park, Ninth Street, Little Rock: This annual fundraiser helps raise money for improvements to MacArthur Park by hosting a night of beer and bräts. There will also be music from Mark Currey. Adults get in for $15. Those between 13-20 get in for $10 and kids 6-12 get in for $7. The event is set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. For more information, call 375-0121.

Annual Associates Supper at Old State House Museum, 300 W. Markham St., Little Rock: This yearly event includes a reception, a southern feast and music entertainment. It all takes place on the lawn of the Old State House Museum. Tickets are $100. Proceeds go to the mission of the Old State House Museum. The event is from 6-9 p.m. For tickets, contact Sammye Johnston at 664-1879 or For more information, click here.

The Art of Motion: Tango at Arkansas Arts Center, 501 E. 9th St., Little Rock: Come learn the art form that is the tango at the Arkansas Arts Center on Thursday night. You'll receive instruction from international instructors and after the lessons, you'll get to show off your new moves. You don't need a partner to attend. The class goes from 7-10:30 p.m. and is $10 for non-members. For more information, click here.

Little Rock Wind Symphony at Second Presbyterian Church, 600 Pleasant Valley Drive, Little Rock: The wind symphony will kick off its 2014-15 year with "Energy & Reflection," conducted by Timothy Oliver. The show goes from 7:30-9 p.m. Tickets are $10, $8 for seniors and free for students. For more information, click here.

Friday (Oct. 10)

Johnny Cash: Arkansas Icon at Butler Center Underground Gallery, 401 President Clinton Ave., Little Rock: Through Jan. 24, the Center for Arkansas History and Culture is hosting Johnny Cash: Arkansas Icon. The exhibit will feature nearly 100 items, including newspaper clippings, photographs, original works of art, memorabilia and historical documents. The story of Cash will begin with his birth and continue to include later visits and concerts in Arkansas. The centerpiece of the exhibit will be Cash's shows for Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller during Rockefeller's re-election campaign in the late 1960s. The exhibit is free. There's an opening reception set for 5-7:30 p.m. Friday. Cash's drummer, W.S. Holland, and his band will perform at the reception. For more information, click here

Bonerama at South on Main, 1304 Main St., Little Rock: Everyone's favorite restaurant in the South Main District is hosting a night of New Orleans-based music with the brass funk band Bonerama. The show begins at 10 p.m. Friday and is $17. For more information, click here.

Sunday (Oct. 12)

Little Rock Mid-Century Modern Tour at Tower Building, 323 Center St., Little Rock: The Quapaw Quarter Association is hosting its inaugural tour of mid-century modern architecture in Little Rock. The tour will start at 1 p.m. at the Tower Building. Tickets are $15 for QQA members and $20 for non-members. For more information, click here.

Friday-Saturday (Oct. 10-11)

Amy Garland at Historic Arkansas Museum, 200 E. 3rd St., Little Rock: Amy Garland, a singer-songwriter that blends folk, R&B, bluegrass, pop and country, will perform as part of the Historic Arkansas Museum’s Second Friday Art Night. The event goes from 5:30-8 p.m. and includes music, art and refreshments. For more information, click here.


"A Quiet End" at The Weekend Theater, 1001 W. 7th St., Little Rock: It's the next-to-last weekend to see "A Quiet End," one of the earliest dramas on AIDS, at The Weekend Theater. The play follows three men — a teacher, an aspiring jazz pianist and an unemployed actor — who live in a rundown Manhattan apartment and have been shunned by their families because they have AIDS. Tickets to the show are $16 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information and to reserve tickets, click here.

Friday-Sunday (Oct. 10-12)

Arkansas State Fair at State Fair Grounds, 2600 Howard St., Little Rock: It's that time again. Rides, games and everything fried. Enjoy the state fair Friday through Oct. 19. Some of the music acts include George Thorogood, Travis Tritt and Dru Hill. For more information, click here.

"The Rainmaker" at The Community Theater, 328 W. 7th St., Little Rock: The Community Theater's 59th season continues this weekend with "The Rainmaker" by N. Richard Nash. The play follows a family suffering through a drought. Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and students. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. the play will run through Oct. 19. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Esse Purse Museum to Showcase 'Handbags for Hillary' Exhibit

Image by Waynette Traub

President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wave to supporters during an event Saturday at the Old State House in Little Rock marking the 20th anniversary of Clinton's decision to run for president.


Sorry, Bill, but this one’s for Hill. 

As you probably know, the Clinton Presidential Library is celebrating a decade in Little Rock and the whole city is celebrating with 10 days of exhibits and events featuring the former First Family.

One of the establishments joining the fun is the Esse Purse Museum & Store with the exhibit “Handbags for Hillary.” The third special display of the year will follow Hillary from LR to DC by taking a look at handbags she received along the way.

What you will see: An incredible array of purses from one of the most compelling times in our state’s history.

What you won’t see: Any tags that say “If found, please return to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.”

You can see “Handbags for Hillary” from Oct. 14 through Nov. 30 during regular store hours, which are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Museum admission of $10 ($8 for seniors, military, and students; children under 5 free) includes the special exhibit.

10 Things to Do at the Arkansas State Fair

Gallery by Arkansas State Fair


This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Arkansas State Fair! From Oct. 10-19, families can celebrate the milestone anniversary by enjoying all that the fair has to offer -- from rides and slides to livestock competitions and professional bull riding.

Here are 10 things to do with your family at the 2014 Arkansas State Fair!

1. 75th Anniversary Parade

To commemorate the big year, the Arkansas State Fair will host a special parade in downtown Little Rock -- the first State Fair parade in the state since 1986. The parade will begin at 10 a.m. Oct. 11, with marching bands, floats, cars, animals and more promenading down Broadway to Capitol Ave. and concluding on the east side of the State Capitol building. The event is free to the public.


2. Midway Rides

You'll find 56 carnival rides in the massive midway, including several new rides like The Enterprise, a ride that exerts centrifugal force on riders as it transitions from horizontal to vertical. Other new rides include Hang 10, YoYo, Baja Buggies and Happy Swing. Ride tickets are not included with gate admission.


3. Professional Bull Riding

Alright, cowboys and girls. The Professional Bull Riders Tour rides into Barton Coliseum with veteran competitors and up-and-coming riders. Ridin' in the Rock performances are at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 17-18. General admission tickets are $10, reserved seats $20; gate admission to State Fair is not included.


4. Fair Food

You can smell that deep fried goodness for a mile -- play it safe with perennial favorites like funnel cakes, cotton candy and corn dogs. Or, try one of the inventive new fair foods, including Cajun fried ribs, fried peaches and cream, bacon-wrapped fried chili dog, a French fried baked potato or even fried lemonade. Either way, you can choose from approximately 50 delicious food vendors when your family needs a snack.

5. Live Concerts

Check out the concert lineup, which will please fans of all musical tastes. "Bad to the Bone" George Thorogood will kick things off on Oct. 10. The week will also include performances from country artist Travis Tritt (Oct. 11), '90s R&B group Color Me Badd (Oct. 15), Sisqo-fronted R&B act Dru Hill (Oct. 16), classic rockers REO Speedwagon (Oct. 17), and "Cooler Than Me" singer Mike Posner (Oct. 19). All concerts are included with general admission. Premium upgraded concert seats are available for $15.

6. Livestock Competitions

This annual tradition showcases some of the state's finest beef and dairy cattle, swine, sheep, goats, poultry and rabbits. The Junior Livestock Sale of Champions will be held in Barton Coliseum at 1 p.m. Oct. 17. Livestock competitions will also be held daily on the fairgrounds. Families can also wander through the livestock stalls to chat with the competitors and meet the animals.

7. History Museum

Do you know the fair has its very own Arkansas State Fair History Museum? The museum has been open for five years! You can relive the 75 years of history in the museum, which is located adjacent to the Farm Bureau Arts & Crafts building. Music lovers can also check out classic rock memorabilia in the Barton Rock and Roll Museum located inside the northeast concourse of Barton Coliseum. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. daily for both.


8. Attractions, Attractions, Attractions

Take a break from the high-flying rides in the midway to enjoy a few popular attractions, including the dancing, 9-foot-tall Rock-It the Robot. Another hit is the Exotic Animal Petting Zoo, featuring animals from around the world and pony rides for kids. And don't miss shows like the Swampmaster Gator Show, New York Daredevil High Dive Show and the Show Me Swine Racers.

9. Creative Arts

In the Farm Bureau Arts & Crafts Building, visitors will see artists displaying their crafts, hobbies and even cooking skills. Judging for the Gold Medal Flour Cookie Challenge with take place at 3:15 p.m. Oct. 13, and an Arkansas Photography Contest for amateur photographers will be judged at 1:15 p.m. Oct. 10. Other competitions include amateur wine, floral arrangements, honey, ice cream, pies, barbeque and chili.

10. Fireworks Finale

The 75th Anniversary Arkansas State Fair will end with a bang on Oct. 19, with a fireworks show lighting up the night sky. Following the main stage act that evening, the fireworks will begin at approximately 8:15 p.m.


Ticket information:

Advance Purchase Ride Passes are available at 77 participating Walgreens stores in Arkansas and redeemable for a one-day unlimited ride armband at the State Fair. The special $22 pass can be redeemed at midway ticket booths any day of the fair, except Dollar Day (Oct. 13), and will save patrons $3.

Advance gate admission tickets are $5.99, children and seniors $2.99. Advance gate admission tickets may be purchased at Walgreens locations through October 10, or at the Fair Ticket Office and online at before 5 p.m., Oct. 10.

Regular gate admission is $10, children ages 6-12 and seniors ages 60 and older $5, children under six free; fairgrounds parking is $5 per vehicle.

Families can also take advantage of daily deals and specials, including Dollar Day in which admission, parking and rides are $1 each; Kiddie Days in which children ages 6 and under can ride Kiddie Rides free; and more. Click here for all fair promotions.

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About The Author
What’s new in shopping, the arts, music, travel, fun parties and delicious food in Arkansas? Let Lauren James of be your guide. An avid shopper, traveler and lover of everything-arts-related, she will show you the best of what Arkansas has to offer. Make your go-to spot every day to learn the latest in entertainment, dining, attractions, activities and more.
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One of the many ways we like to celebrate this frightful season: A blood racing visit to a local haunted house. Here are six local haunts that are sure to spook the "boo" right out of you.

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