“Every once in a distant while you find a book that has the ability to take you along on a journey feeling every emotion: the joy, the sorrow, the fear, the wonder, the hope. This book touched my heart as I know it will for all who read it.”~ Janet Murphy
A Community of Voices
It takes a community to grow a family. Add autism to the mix, and that community becomes very large. In fact, it may span an entire country.
Our autism journey has been like that, filled with diverse, passionate and compassionate individuals from coast to coast—and beyond. Our journey mates helped us, shaped us and changed us. Here are some of their voices:
“It is, at its core, a great story of hope, compassion and resilience.”
Teresa’s heartfelt story about raising her son Erik is filled with loving ananecdotes of the challenging and at times lighthearted moments parenting a child with special needs. Through her eyes, we glimpse into the mind of her son with autism and his fascination with the things that many of us don’t even notice in our everyday lives. It is pure brilliance.
The Hedley journey portrays the myriad of challenges a military family must embrace on a posting, as well as packing up and moving, at times, to the other side of the country. To do so with a child with autism creates a new level of complexity.
Often funny, yet serious at its root, this book shows how it doesn’t just take a village to raise a child: in Erik’s case, it takes a small town.
Supporters of Erik help Teresa see her child in a different light, for as a parent, one is perhaps too close to the forest to see the beautiful flowers in the trees.
Through the trials of high school, hormones and transition to adulthood, this story is a portrayal of how love and compassion overcome percentiles and projection. Teresa’s strength to advocate for Erik helps ensure that the world can embrace his potential and help make him the extraordinary person he is. It is, at its core, a great story of hope, compassion and resilience.
Colonel, OMM, CD, Director Military Family Service,
Canadian Armed Forces; Ottawa, ON
“This book is an entertaining and important step in the right direction.”
I highly recommend this book. Teresa is a gifted storyteller, and Erik provides the inspiration for her stories, overall a masterful blend of humour and authenticity. Erik and others like him (my own son, Jaden, for one) have so much to contribute to the great benefit of all of us, if given a chance. We just need to pay as much attention to their unique skills and abilities as we do their challenges. This book is an entertaining and important step in the right direction.
Canadian Parliamentarian and international autism advocate; Edmonton, AB
“Erik and his family powerfully advocate for autism appreciation.”
Meeting Erik, his sister and his parents was truly a joy in my process of learning from the Canadian autism community. Through their creative videos, Erik and his family powerfully advocate for autism appreciation— that different does not mean wrong and is in fact an important part of the joy that comes from being able to learn from one another. Their optimism, enthusiasm, acceptance and unity is a message for wellness and demonstrates the importance of growing as individuals and as a family.
–JONATHAN A. WEISS
PhD, CPsych, York Research Chair in Autism and
Neurodevelopmental Disability Mental Health; Toronto, ON
“There are a lot of lessons on these pages for all of us.”
I met the Hedleys in 2014 in Ottawa on Remembrance Day, and while that is always an emotional day, it was even more so that day because it had come just a few weeks after the shootings on Parliament Hill. It was clear very quickly from our conversation about the events we had just witnessed that they were a very focussed family. And it’s equally clear from this book that they are focussed on the challenges that exist for them as a family, just as they do for so many other families in Canada. There are a lot of lessons on these pages for all of us, and we can benefit from considering them and acting upon them.
former anchor and chief correspondent, CBC’s The National; Stratford, ON
Thank you to the Hedley family for inviting us to see the world through the complex and intriguing lens of autism.
Canadian Parliamentarian and astronaut; Montreal, QC
PAUSE & PONDER: A Handful of Mindful was sketched by Erik to illustrate ideas in our mindfulness article. I was ready to sign Erik up for mindfulness therapy, until I thought, “Wait a moment…Erik is mindfulness!” And then I decided to follow his lead.
“This memoir offers comfort, insight, hope, joy and perspective.”
Relatable, honest and eloquently shared, What’s Not Allowed? is a journey of joy, of moving forward, a testament to the value of staying curious, positive and patient. Teresa’s writing paints a thousand pictures.
It is handed to us as an experience: the reader feels the moments, each born of reflecting, braving to revisit difficult times, taking time to recall the bright spots, the humor, the happiness. This creates an understanding we can hold, like a memorable painting or film. The Hedley family story is one for us all: it is a celebration to which we can all relate, evolving into whom we choose to be . . . the journey from what’s not allowed to knowing what is right—feeling esteemed. This memoir offers comfort, insight, hope, joy and perspective for the family, therapist, educator and physician. What a gift!
–SARAH FORD HOLLIDAY
MS, CCC/SLP; Lewisburg, West Virginia
“It will help other families to see how profound, and also beautiful, [the journey] can be.”
This book will be important for any family that is experiencing life with a child on the autism spectrum. What an incredible journey Erik and his family have been on! It has been a true privilege to be a part of their journey, and I know it will help other families to see how profound, and also beautiful, it can be. Erik inspires me with his perspective and approach to life, and I am in awe of the person he is becoming. He is lucky to have the family he has, but they are equally as fortunate to have him in their lives.
PhD, CPsych, Clinical Director, Emerging Minds; Ottawa, ON
“You will find insights that challenge some of the predominant social attitudes around difference.”
Written with such clarity and honesty, Teresa pens captivating short stories in a down-to-earth, accessible manner. She captures her journey with Erik, slowing down time as it were, to allow the reader to linger in those moments. The reader has the opportunity to peer into the joys and challenges of parenting and family life as they “grow up” together. Her passion is apparent to all who meet her and all who will read this!
Here, you will find insights that challenge some of the predominant social attitudes around difference—how it can be strange and therefore
feared, or remedied by an openness and curiosity to moving towards what was unknown.
PhD, Neuroscience, Director of Strategy and Operations, Canadian
Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance (CASDA); Toronto, ON
“Teresa shares what her children taught her about embracing neurodiversity.”
What’s Not Allowed? reaches out and touches the reader—tears and laughter, equal parts—which is the human condition. This book offers a bird’s-eye view into the nest where three unique and beautiful children hatched, grew strong and learned to fly. Teresa shares what her children taught her about embracing neurodiversity and how to create environments where kids are “allowed” to shine!
PhD, RPsych; Calgary, AB
“You will see autism with new appreciative eyes.”
Teresa has a gift for transforming her world with autism into one of adventure, co-learning, shared struggles but most of all, one of opportunity. Teresa’s narrative is a reminder that the perspective of autism can be insightful and joyful. Share the Hedley family journey, and you will see autism with new appreciative eyes.
MSW, RSW; Ottawa, ON
PAUSE & PONDER: Why Become Mindful? Too much clutter diminishes focus. If our minds are elsewhere, we miss the moment. Tuning in and tapping into the inclinations and keen observation of those with autism has changed the way I see the world.
“Teresa’s honest sharing reaches in and alters the hearts and minds of the reader to look beyond a label.”
This insightful dive into the whirlwind of the gifts and challenges of neurodiversity offers wisdom both to other families and to the professionals who support families. Teresa Hedley’s honest sharing reaches in and alters the hearts and minds of the reader to look beyond a label into the possibilities that emerge from the willingness to align with what is. What’s Not Allowed? is a shining testament to people with autism being —as Temple Grandin accurately says—“different, not less,” and it will inspire readers to feel society is capable of changing for the better.
OT, international speaker, consultant, author; Victoria, BC
“It is a testament to a family’s perseverance, growth, commitment to each other.”
What an adventure to be brought into the life of the Hedley family! Teresa is skilled at bringing the reader into the experiences of her family. The imagery, emotion and connection conveyed through honesty, humour, reflection and resilience will have the reader excited to read each story. This book is more than a compilation of stories: it is a testament to a family’s perseverance, growth, commitment to each other and to spreading a message of love and learning. The support you have provided each other and now extended to the entire community is invaluable. Thank you for these stories!
–ESTHER RHEE CARNAT
MSW, National Program Director, Autism Speaks Canada; Toronto, ON
“She is an incredible storyteller who clearly articulates a memorable journey.”
Teresa Hedley is a “one of a kind” in the world of autism spectrum disorders: advocate, writer, teacher and parent. She has navigated through the tumultuous expedition armed with a steadfast attitude and a wonderful sense of humour. Not only is she an autism warrior mom extraordinaire, but she is an incredible storyteller who clearly articulates a memorable journey throughout the lifespan of her son Erik.
educator and speaker, Integrated Autism Consulting; Barrie, ON
“This book not only educates, it inspires.”
I highly recommend What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey With Autism to anyone who has been touched by autism. I had the privilege of working with Teresa and Erik, joining in, for a short while, their search for tools and activities to support Erik’s gifts and challenges. I refer, in my mind, to Teresa and Erik, as the “Dynamic Duo.” They present as a united front, and they present with great energy. That energy is directed toward seeing autism clearly: what is good, what is hard, what needs to be changed, enlarged, adapted or removed, to support not only Erik, but the entire Hedley family. Autism is absolutely a family affair and this labor of love by Teresa to share their journey brings, with clear-sighted unremitting honesty, the triumphs and trials that come with a diagnosis of autism. This book not only educates, it inspires.
MA,CCC/SLP, Build The Brain; Dallas, Texas
PAUSE & PONDER: Learning Mindfulness From Autism. By celebrating our family members with autism and allowing them to share what delights them, we are learning mindfulness. Erik has taught us all about objects and their shadows—and of course, what’s not allowed!
Teresa and her family are making a difference in the world and are doing what makes them feel joyful. Their products are so insightful, positive, and overall, works of art!
trainer and consultant, Crisis & Trauma Resource Institute; Ottawa, ON
“Her expressive writing style creates a magical space in which we all can learn, grow and explore.”
Working with Teresa has opened my eyes to many of the challenges that children with autism face, but more importantly, to the opportunities for children and parents to learn and grow together. I am so impressed with the dignity and respect with which Teresa has raised her family. Her excerpts and memories bring you into the world of parenting a child with autism, and her expressive writing style creates a magical space in which we all can learn, grow and explore.
Executive Director, Peel Family Education Centre; Brampton, ON
This is a rich collection of stories that reflect a family’s journey with autism. Their courage and commitment resonate, as does the importance of love, perseverance and hope.
PhD, Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary; Calgary, AB
“A must-read for parents of children with autism, professionals and the general community.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Teresa and her son Erik at an autism conference and was immediately impressed with her ease in sharing her experiences and the important insights that she offered. What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism is reflective of those insights, along with humorous vignettes, raw emotion and guidelines for advocacy. Teresa’s memoir invites the reader to join the Hedley family on their journey and is a must-read for parents of children with autism, professionals and the general community who want to understand and support others who are on this journey.
MEd, BSc, OT, consultant, author and speaker; Toronto, ON
How do we come to know, across species and as well, across cultures . . . how do we come to know someone else . . . without projections? I’ve see your son out there, along the shore . . . The ocean tells him who he is, and he is vast.”
Canadian photographic artist and author; Vancouver, BC
Note: The testimonials reflect the views of the individual, independent of the organization to which they belong and/or represent.
PAUSE & PONDER: Learning Mindfulness For Autism. In order to teach Erik abstract concepts like culture, instinct and perspective, I need to pause and consider each one carefully–and that is mindfulness. In guiding my son, I become more like him: tuned in and mindful.
“The brain is an amazing thing, isn’t it? It would be so boring if we all saw and experienced things the same way. Your book was like a little window into a different world. Thanks for the glimpse into yours and your family’s. I enjoyed it a lot.”Cindilla Trent
What Readers are Saying
“You know a well-written and engaging book when once you’ve finished it, the content lingers in your mind for days.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Entertaining and Enlightening. A Must Read.
“Brilliant! I loved this book. Compelling, honest and often humorous. A fascinating and insightful glimpse into life, and life with autism. My four favourites: You need a good throw for a good catch. When you think you know, you stop thinking. When we know better we do better. To continue is your power. This book is must for every family touched by autism, and highly recommended for the rest of us looking in.” ~ F.H.
☆☆☆☆☆ Inspiring journey map for other parents!
“Regarding Teresa’s marvelous book. I truly love it. I am halfway through and gaining such insight. It helped remind me of my own need for vast empathy and putting myself in my sons’ shoes. It helped me in my advocacy with my Grade 9 son’s school and teachers in January. So thank you for all you have done to put your experiences down for others to learn from, and be inspired from. ~ Anon.
“We seem to keep talking about this book, like one does a memorable experience, marveling at it…”
☆☆☆☆☆ A very captivating read From beginning to end, this book held my attention and made me want to read more. It is a well-crafted account of persevering and overcoming, from a talented writer. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to be inspired by one family’s journey with autism. ~ Curtis
☆☆☆☆☆ Appreciating neurodiversity Thoroughly enjoyed this book – I could not put it down! It’s honest and compelling and it helped me better understand neurodiversity. Teresa’s compassion, resolve, insight and optimism are inspiring! ~ Anne V.
“This book has vulnerability and courage throughout. A good read and re-read.”
☆☆☆☆☆ The best thing I have read! Beautiful!! The writing and the story are beautiful, like a view you don’t want to look away from or music you want to hear more of. Enjoyable!!! Teresa offers us a blueprint for parenting with positivity and belief, “A diagnosis is not a prognosis,” and “How I see Erik is how Erik will see himself.” This is a book for everyone. My 85 year old mother, a retired English teacher and a voracious reader said, ” This is the best thing I have read. It reads like a novel. Erik is so sweet.” We seem to keep talking about this book, like one does a memorable experience, marveling at it!! ~ Sarah Holliday
☆☆☆☆☆ Vulnerability and Courage
“Brené Brown said, “A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor.” “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be; embrace who you are.” This book has vulnerability and courage throughout. A good read and re-read.” ~ K.K.
“It helped remind me of my own need for vast empathy and putting myself in my sons’ shoes.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Positive Perspective on Parenting a Child on the Spectrum
Teresa Hedley’s book is fantastic!!
“A positive perspective on her family’s journey with autism. It’s not sugar-coated, yet takes the reader into her shoes as a mother of a child on the spectrum with all its challenges and its glory. Fun to read. Very insightful. Helpful guidance to those who follow. Healthy angle, of you, as the mother, need to rise up at times to advocate, celebrate the ah-ha moments, make new decisions at every turn that are best suited for your child, maintain the child’s true self while being sure that they have the support necessary to reach their full potential, all while continuing to wear all the hats to take care of the rest of the family. It’s beautifully written. Full of growth mindset tips and quite a few chuckles regarding cuteness, quirkiness, and the necessary perspectives adopted to “rock” being an awesome parent of a child on the spectrum!” ~ Kathleen
☆☆☆☆☆ A thought provoking AND funny book!
I read this book from cover to cover as soon as I received it from Indigo in the mail. Loved it and the insights into the Hedley family and on the autism experience. Very thought provoking on many levels. You know a well-written and engaging book when once you’ve finished it, the content lingers in your mind for days. Even went back and re-read a couple of chapters! ~ Anon.
“[This] book is unexpectedly laugh-out loud funny in spots and definitely a page-turning entertaining read.”
☆☆☆☆☆ This non-fiction book is a rare jewel and a must-read
My comfort is holding a book with the building anticipation of what lies between the pages. Truthfully there are some that fail to impress and most others are just a good read. Yet every once in a distant while you find a book that has the ability to take you along on a journey feeling every emotion: the joy, the sorrow, the fear, the wonder, the hope. TERESA HEDLEY`S WHAT`S NOT ALLOWED offers all this and more, as one is swept up with her unique ability to share and guide, with warmth and the purest beauty of a Mother`s love. I highly recommend this book now on the list for Governor General`s Award for Literary Excellence (non fiction) 2021. This book touched my heart as I know it will for all who read it. ~ Janet Murphy
☆☆☆☆☆ Powerful Beautifully written, bringing the reader inside her head for the journey that family took living with autism. Very powerful and informative. Harriet Walker, Toronto. ~ Harriet Walker
“A fascinating and insightful glimpse into life, and life with autism.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Superb Read!
“I am sure this will go down in history as one of Canada’s greatest memoirs about autism; however, it is more than that. The author paints a picture with a lyrical style, filled with beautiful strokes of nuance and layers of colour. The book is unexpectedly laugh-out-loud funny in spots and definitely a page-turning entertaining read. Although about a family with a member with autism, the book had many relatable themes that can be translated to the human experience as a whole. What stuck with me the most is the importance of what we project onto our children. This is a great read for anyone who likes an entertaining nonfiction memoir. But it is a must-read for anyone who has children of their own or anyone who works with children.” ~ Ann Thomas
☆☆☆☆☆ An Encouraging Message
“If you want to understand what it means to have autism and to live with autism, read this book. But it is more than a book about autism. Teresa takes us on an honest journey through her life, and shares the lessons she has learned from her challenges and experiences. I think everyone will be able to relate to something in this book. The underlying message is one of perseverance, hope and encouragement.” ~ L.P.
“Her book is a gift to those who share the autism experience and those who are unaware of its impact on families each hour of each day of each year.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Of value to those families experiencing autism and those who wish to understand it Teresa’s immersion in helping to chart a path for Erik underscores the commitment and love that nourishes her and her family’s motivation to do whatever is possible to help Erik mature and find his way through life. The genuine concern and care from supportive people and organizations is uplifting, easing their inherited burden. Her book is a gift to those who share the autism experience and those who are unaware of its impact on families each hour of each day of each year. Highly commendable.
~ Jack McGee, Founding Director, Pacific Autism Family Network
“This is an inspiring and eloquently told story that is hard to put down.”
“This book read like cream.”
☆☆☆☆☆ A masterpiece of knowledge and insight on the complicated subject of autism
This book is a gentle tale of guidance and wisdom along an unrelenting path towards full integration. Teresa and Eric’s lives are laid out in a clear voice, exemplifying the love and determination of a family reaching for success while accepting limitations. Every educator, therapist, parent, family member or friend of someone with autism needs to read this book. No wonder it is nominated for the Canadian Governor General’s Award for nonfiction. I hope it wins. ~ Joline M.
“Every educator, therapist, parent, family member or friend of someone with autism needs to read this book.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Spellbinding Read
I have never ever read a novel for the second time but I am re- reading WHATS NOT ALLOWED! There is so much meat on the bones in every chapter that I can only feel more sated on the second visit to the buffet. and it tastes just as fabulous, the second time ‘ round! ~ Marjorie Favretto Halifax NS
☆☆☆☆☆ Intensely Readable
This book read like cream. I was drawn into it immediately. The writer had a knack for description that allowed one entry into more understanding of autism and how it affects family . While having autism is a game changer and definitely challenging, it is not the end of the world. Teresa and her family show how life can be lived and this book would give hope to those needing some. Highly recommend. ~ Karen C.
“Such love and understanding is shared and anyone who reads this book will come away as a more understanding and compassionate person!”
☆☆☆☆☆ Beautifully written, insightful and a page-turner
“Teresa is a born writer” that’s what I thought to myself while reading this book. It’s rare that I feel like I need to have a pencil handy while I read – but in this case I found myself marvelling at the way she’d put words together to describe an action or a feeling and I’d have to mark it to re-read it later. I’d note perfect metaphors and similes that felt so natural and unforced. They always seemed to have a unique perspective and a freshness to them. I would read anything that Teresa decides to write and I hope she continues. I think she’d be a great novelist.
Having a teenage son with autism myself, I appreciated Teresa’s parental persistence and optimism but also marvelled at her willingness to be open and vulnerable with us, her readers. She teaches us many lessons while recounting her stories. I just loved it. Bravo. ~ Tash S.
☆☆☆☆☆ Walking in Autism Shoes
Loved this book. What an insight into the life of a neurodiverse person from someone who knows him best – his mom! Teresa and Erik and the whole Hedley family journey is such an interesting, challenging, bright and exciting story. Such concrete examples and experiences help anyone to learn more about what life is like for someone who lives with autism and someone who lives WITH someone who has autism! Erik and Teresa are inspiring. Hearing about life from toddler-hood through to adulthood was fascinating. Such love and understanding is shared and anyone who reads this book will come away as a more understanding and compassionate person! ~ Laura
“Teresa not only creates awareness but, most importantly, instills hope for all those facing the challenge in real time daily life.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Powerful and Personal
The sharing of the journey is so powerful and so personal, maybe it is so powerful because it is so personal. Many times as I read, strong emotions were evoked- the sign of a story well told. That tightness in the throat, followed by the lump as one swallows, soon followed by misty eyes. Erik’s speech from Parliament Hill was particularly moving . There was raw pure power in that message.~ Pete from Thunder Bay
☆☆☆☆☆ Gripping and Informative
This is a wonderful and moving story. The narrative Teresa Hedley has threaded borders on magical realism and it makes for an intensely personal but also universal story of a mother’s love, and sheer will to unlock the potential of an equally complex and wonderful human that is her son, Erik. ~ AR
“I appreciated Teresa’s parental persistence and optimism but also marvelled at her willingness to be open and vulnerable with us, her readers.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Brilliant and Captivating
A brilliantly unique and captivating writing style that tells the story of Teresa’s family journey with Autism. Her insightful approach is a must read for anyone dealing with autism specifically and life in general. Teresa’s coping mechanisms and strategies for her son would help any of us in stressful times. This is an inspiring and eloquently told story that is hard to put down. A great story with great insights into life. Bravo!
Dr Scott Becker OMM, CD, DDS, NSS, FPFA, Colonel (ret)
“Teresa’s coping mechanisms and strategies for her son would help any of us in stressful times.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Terrific Book
The book is fantastic. I really enjoyed the writing – detailed but always ‘entertaining’ and so informative. A great read. ~ Mark Gardhouse
☆☆☆☆☆ Can’t put it down!
I started this book a few days ago, and I can’t stop reading it. The chapters are short, and the stories told within them all relate to one another, whether you know it at first or not. This book is more than solely autism, it contains universal themes within it that will make you pause and reflect your life and its path (how our upbringing sculpts us, the people we know, etc.) You’ll find yourself reflecting, laughing, and even shedding a tear. This book will leave you thinking. Then, you’ll want to read it again. ~ Heather
“The sharing of the journey is so powerful and so personal…maybe it is so powerful because it is so personal.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Giving Families Hope!
From the opening pages, Teresa talks about the emotions with having Erik diagnosed at a young age, to moments of absolute humor (Dollar Store Deviant is my favorite!), her story helps contextualize the realities of many families living with Autism. For me, a key message of the book was there are some real and pressing challenges for parents living with special needs, but does not necessarily detract from our children’s willingness to explore and self-actualize and/or improve. That comes out in Erik’s story (particularly in his different passions like videography), and that gives families hope. ~ Todd Stride
☆☆☆☆☆ Wonderfully written book on parenting and autism
I learned so much about neurodiversity and the victories and struggles involved for parents and other family members. It’s a great read, well written with humour and insight. So glad Teresa took the time to write this, it will definitely show others they are not alone and help them find their way. ~ Phx Shopper
“This book will leave you thinking. Then, you’ll want to read it again.”
☆☆☆☆☆ Insights into the journey of autism
I truly enjoyed “What’s not Allowed”. You are living in the time I always think about, the future. I stopped worrying so much about it because I have to focus on progression of my young child, but I love hearing about successes . Erik has become a fine young man surrounded by his loving family. ~ Jim MacGee
☆☆☆☆☆ An Uplifting and Inspiring Family Journey!
An insightful and compelling introduction to life with autism crafted by an astoundingly talented author who so eloquently articulates the intricacies of dealing with the condition. Through her captivating prose and so obviously boundless energy, Teresa not only creates awareness but, most importantly, instills hope for all those facing the challenge in real time daily life. Brilliantly done!
Dr. Victor J. Lanctis, MB, SBStJ, CD, BA, DDS, MFICD, FADI, FPFA, Ottawa, Canada
Brigadier-General (ret) Royal Canadian Dental Corps
“So glad Teresa took the time to write this. It will definitely show others they are not alone and help them find their way.”
“She teaches us many lessons while recounting her stories. I just loved it. Bravo.”