Carrie Cariello grew up in a teeny-tiny town in rural New York called Wingdale. Wingdale was so small it had one stop light. Back then she was Carrie Watterson, and she was always the tallest girl in her class.
After high school, Carrie went on to get a Bachelors of Science in Political Administration from the State University of New York and a Masters in Public Administration from Rockefeller College. During this time, she met a dark-haired guy named Joe who wanted to become a dentist. On Easter Sunday in 1996, in her small apartment above a hair salon, he gave her a small sapphire ring and they laughed and cried and planned a wedding.
Together they moved to Buffalo, New York where he went to dental school and Carrie began a career in marketing. For ten years she worked for an extraordinary construction company called Lehigh Construction Group, Inc.
While they were in Buffalo they had a son, Joey. About a year later, they had another son, Jack. And from the time he was a small baby wearing dark blue footie pajamas with snowflakes on them, Jack was different. He did not talk or babble or coo. He did not point. He did not have things like joint attention or gross motor skills or eye contact.
What he did have, Joe and Carrie eventually learned, was autism.
They went on to have another boy and they named him Charlie. After Charlie was born in 2005 they moved to Bedford, New Hampshire, where they still live today.
Carrie did not dream of becoming a writer as a little girl in Wingdale, New York. She did not have visions of tap-tap-tapping her life story on a laptop for people to read on Facebook or in a blog or a book. But over time, she learned she could best make sense of her long, frustrating days with Jack and his autism if she wrote about them. Over time, writing has helped her separate the boy from his diagnosis and discover that she fiercely loves them both.
And like a prism with countless different angles and light and rainbows, sometimes she sees her own reflection in her writing. Sometimes she understands herself better.
There are days when she’s writing and she thinks this is a giant piece of crap why would anyone ever read this I am wasting my time. But then she makes herself move forward to post, to publish, to reveal. And people seem to like it. People are following her. Because like that prism, people see their own reflections in her writing; they see tiny colorful bits of themselves and their families and their autistic children in her essays.
She gets her best ideas when she’s driving.
She and the dark-haired guy from college have been married for nearly fifteen years, and together they have four boys and one rosy daughter. Some days are long and difficult and exhausting while others are filled with color and music and chocolate-covered doughnuts. They are filled with laughter.
But no matter what kind of day it’s been, whether full of tantrums and tears or lightness and bliss, there is always something to write about.
Carrie Cariello has been featured on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed site, The Huffington Post, Parents.com, and Autism Speaks.com. She has been interviewed by Fox News’ Manny Alvarez for a segment on Health Now which was broadcast nationally through Fox’s syndication network.