Friday, March 29, 2013

I'm a Sesame Place Blog Ambassador

I am so excited to announce that I am a 2013 Sesame Place Ambassador Blogger! And we are counting the days until opening day - Saturday, April  27th.

The Boy is especially excited to ride the Vapor Trail. He'll go on that with The Husband. Mommy doesn't do roller coasters - I don't care if they are appropriate for 7 year olds. The Boy and I can ride the Flyin FishAnd as a family, we love Grover's World Twirl.

Getting around the park is super easy with the iPhone App - especially if it's your first time.    

I'm really looking forward to this new opportunity and having family fun at a place we all can enjoy. And I hope to see you on the 27th! 

And don't forget to make your reservations for Sesame Place concerts this season. You can make your reservations now click HERE. Hurray they go fast!

You can also keep up with Sesame Place via Pinterest, Twitter & Facebook.

Disclaimer: This is not a compensated post. I have been selected as a Sesame Place Blog Ambassador for the 2013 season. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The New Generation Latino Consortium: Media, Marketing and Entertainment Conference

Tuesday April 2, is the New Generation Latino Consortium's (NGLC) Media, Marketing and Entertainment Conference and I am honored to be invited to attend. I'm eager to listen and learn from the experts in the industry. Attending this conference provides the opportunity to interact with Fortune 500 executives, top NGL media outlets, general and Latino market ad agency executives, celebrities and invited press outlets.
The NGLC is "the only organization dedicated to educating and informing the business and entertainment worlds about the importance of the New Generation Latino (NGL) market."
At a pivotal time where a new foundation is being set for our industry, the NGLC’s mission of embracing the Total Latino Market has never been more poignant.  We’ve been openly leading this conversation for over a decade with our signature events being a must-attend for those eager to participate in a fresh discussion about the tremendous Latino business opportunities that exist across media, marketing and entertainment. David Chitel, NGLC Chairman & Founder.
Past speakers include Soledad O'Brien, John Leguizamo and Rosie Perez. This year's conference promises to be exciting.  And I'll be tweeting throughout - so be sure to follow me @LaliQuin.

Just to give a little taste...panel discussions will feature (and be moderated by) executives from the Latino advertising, marketing and entertainment communities including: Sergio Alcocer (President & CCO, Latinworks) Tanzina Vega (Reporter, NY Times), Richard Pleplar (CEO, Home Box Office),  Peter Castro (Deputy Managing Editor, People), Rene Alegria  (CEO, Mamiverse Media), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Tony Winning Composer/Lyricist/Actor – In The Heights), and Lisa Garcia Quiroz (SVP, Corp. Responsibility & Chief Diversity Officer, Time Warner). And there will be a  celebrity sit-down that includes singer/songwriter Prince Royce and Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas. You can see the full agenda/speaker/moderator list - HERE  

If you've been following this blog for a while, you know I'm a secretary by day, grad student/writer by night and mami round the clock. Earlier this week, I posted my 500th blog post inspired by Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. And if this isn't a Lean In opportunity, then I don't what is...

For more on NGLC check last year's event hereAnd be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter @NGLConsortium.

*Disclaimer: I am provided with a complimentary ticket to the event. All opinions are my own and have not been influenced in any way.   

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Autism Through the Years

The year I was born, the number of children diagnosed with autism was 1 in 5000. And I went through my school-age years and then some never knowing what autism was or anyone who had it. As I grew older, I had an idea it existed but it wasn’t anything I knew about.
It wasn’t until 2008, at the age of 33,  that I really learned what autism was.
Catch up on some of my other Babble posts:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Support Gay Marriage

On July 24, 2011 I had the privilege of standing witness at my best friend's (The Boy's godfather, Nino) wedding. We stood on line for hours on the streets of City Hall on a hot humid Sunday. I usually get emotional at weddings, but I don't think I've been as moved as I was on this day. 

Most couples eagerly anticipate their wedding, but for many of the couples married on July 24 - the first day of New York's Marriage Equality - it was day some had waited decades for. And as I watched my best friend and his partner exchange their vows - I was grateful they didn't have to wait that long.  

I am raising The Boy to know that he is "different, not less." I don't want anyone to discriminate against him. What kind of mixed message would I send, if I was against gay marriage? Discrimination is never okay.

If two people love each other and are committed to each other - why can't they be married? Why can't two men or two women have the same rights as a man and a woman in love? I believe everyone should be allowed the same right to marry who they love.

The Boy doesn't understand the concept of marriage but he understands love. The Boy understands Nino and Uncle Johnny are part of our family. We spend Christmas, birthdays and special milestones together. He knows that his Nino and Uncle Johnny love each other and that they love him. That's all The Boy sees and that's all that matters to him.

And I wish more people could see things the way The Boy does.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Breaking Out and Leaning In (my 500th blog post)

I haven't read Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, yet but over the last few weeks - I've read several articles in response to Lean In. I've read so many inspiring Lean In stories.  And it's made me reflect on my own life and this journey I've been on.

Nearly twenty years ago, I graduated high school, uncertain of what I wanted to do. So many of my friends seemed to have this plan. I didn't have a clue. 

I registered for classes at the local community college but after a year, I decided it wasn't for me. And I quit to work full-time in a department store. 

I floated from job to job over the next few years - often working two to three jobs at a time.

I returned to school because I was bored and needed something to fill the time. I struggled through most of my classes - especially math and science. I took classes in history, philosophy, business and psychology.  The only classes that interested me were courses in literature, creative writing or journalism.

After seven years working in retail and restaurants, I decided it was time to 'grow up' and get a regular 9-5 job in an office. I had no office experience. I had practically no computer skills. I hadn't taken a typing test since junior year with Mrs. Becker (and even then, I did horribly). And when I went to interview with recruiters - they were brutally honest. "You have no experience. No one will hire you." They all urged me to interview for retail positions.  

I was only twenty-five years old and I felt as if I were being shoved into this box of who I was to be. Even though, I was unemployed - I refused all retail interviews. I had never had any problems getting a job I wanted. I knew someone would eventually hire me.

I interviewed with a small private equity firm - I was in their office for almost four hours. I was certain, the job was mine. And I was shocked when they went with someone else. But I was lucky, that person didn't work out because a few weeks later - I was offered the receptionist position. 
I was going to school part-time at night and while my new job provided tuition reimbursement, they weren't very supportive of their receptionist going to school at night. Knowing I had another priority in my life was a threat. It meant I wanted something more than the cubicle I was sitting in. When I left a few years later, they were surprised it wasn't for another receptionist position.

My next corporate job was in the legal department of an investment firm. It was a true boys club - all the attorneys were white men, the one female attorney was ostracized and ridiculed. A secretary going to a city college was no threat - not to the attorneys anyway. The other secretaries - assumed my time with them was limited and so they didn't take me seriously either.

When I left that job, I was more hopeful than I had been in years. I took a job at a company where I thought I had real growth potential. I had just transferred to my fourth college and finally figured out what I wanted to do. 

I got married. Had a baby. And two weeks before I (finally) graduated with a BA in English, my son was diagnosed with autism.

Trying to find balance as a working mom going to school is hard enough - adding special needs to the mix adds a whole other layer of guilt.

It's been five years since my son was diagnosed with autism. And I've spent that time, being his advocate and his teacher. I've also been pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing. I have been in the same company for almost a decade and I've been an admin for more. 

This spring I will graduate and while I wish I could say - that I my degree will advance me in some way but I know that it will not. I will not be given a promotion and not even a pay raise. 

I have been told time and time again that I am 'over-qualified' for my current admin position but under qualified to do anything else. The only way I can "lean in" is if I quit and start over completely, which is really scary considering that I need to work, I need my salary and my benefits. Having a young special needs child - leaning in seems like a luxury I cannot afford. Not right now, at least.

Not every woman in the workplace can Lean In - that's just a reality we have to face. But that doesn't mean we cannot lead.

Two years ago, I started this blog as a class assignment. And it's really changed the way I've thought about myself, my job and my writing. I've learned to own it. I've learned to make peace with myself. I've learned that I cannot allow myself to be defined by my job. I've learned to pursue my dream in my own time - even if it means, taking one class at a time.  

I've learned that sometimes you have to break out in order to lean in. And just because I can't Lean In at work, that doesn't mean I can't Lean In another direction. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

I Finally Saw Les Miserables (and I may be a little obsessed)

Yesterday I treated myself to a lazy day - meaning, I didn't leave my apartment at all. I spent much of my day, on the sofa - writing, thinking and watching LesMiserables.

I can't believe I didn't see it in the theaters. I can't believe I never saw it on Broadway all those years it was running. I am kicking myself.

After I watched the movie, I took another hour to watch the extras - to learn more about the story and making of the film. And then I downloaded the book. And I'm ready to purchase the soundtrack. (I'm a little obsessed.)

I knew it would be good. And I knew I would like it. But I was surprised how strongly I would feel about it. How quickly I would fall in love with these characters. Or how much I would identify with them. 

I've loved Anne Hathaway for years - ever since I saw her in Ella Enchanted. As Fantine, I was captivated by her. I cringed when they cut off her hair. And winced when they yanked out her tooth. And when she sang, "I dreamed a dream" - I was sobbing like a baby. Sobbing.

The entire cast was amazing. But one my absolute favorite characters? Gavroche. 
I am just so impressed by this kid.

And it's sparked a new curiosity to learn more about the French Revolution.

Today I'll have another lazy day. I have a ton of laundry to wash, fold and put away. And I'm  thinking LesMiserables would be a great movie to watch while doing my chores.

What's your favorite movie to watch on a lazy Sunday?

Are you a Les Mis fan? What do you love about it?

* I purchased this movie. I just loved it so much, I had to write about. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

This is NOT Autism Awareness. Using a child's photo without a mother's permission is wrong.

*Update 3/22/13: Last night, the Facebook page removed the uploaded photo of my son and shared it from my Facebook page. And they apologized. I accept their apology and I am grateful that they did the right thing. Though it's upsetting by what it took to get it. 

And over the last several hours - I've read comments that have really hurt. 

Someone posted that I am the cause of my son's autism because I did drugs. Well, I don't do drugs and um autism isn't caused by drugs. There is no known cause for autism.

Someone posted that I wanted the picture removed because I was scared of immigration. Which was not only insulting but amusing because I was born in New York City. But even if I were born in Puerto Rico - I'd still be an U.S. citizen.

Someone posted that I shouldn't care about being credited and it didn't matter that I didn't give consent, I should just be grateful my son's picture is being shared to raise awareness. 

I've been called petty and argumentative, accused of exploiting my kid and not concerned with raising autism awareness.

I've been told that if it's on Facebook, it's 'fair game' and that if I didn't want anyone sharing my photo then I shouldn't have put it on the internet in the first place.

I have questioned whether or not I have the right to blog about my son. And after this experience, I don't know if I can ever use my son's photo again. 

At the end of the day - a photo of my child was intentionally downloaded and then uploaded to a Facebook business page, Autism Awareness, without my consent and it was captioned, Share to increase Autism Awareness. Even though they failed to share my photo. This page is a for-profit business page however it's buried under links and links of several charity pages. This Facebook page attempted to use a photo of my son for their own financial gain and to drive traffic to their sites. 

I'm a working mom, college student and writer who maintains this blog for free.  I don't have a staff, I'm a one woman operation. 

And I fought back. 

Thank you so much to everyone who helped me! So grateful for your support and encouragement. 

original 3/21/13 post below 

This afternoon, I logged onto Facebook and saw something the really upset me. (I'm refraining from using the kind of language I really want to use.) 

THIS Facebook page used the above picture of MY SON without my permission and without linking to my own Facebook page. 

And they had the nerve - the nerve! - to caption it: Share to increase Autism Awareness! 

The irony: They didn't share it from my facebook page. They didn't share it from the Parents Magazine Facebook page either. THIS sorry Facebook page uploaded the photo as if it were their own.

What's the big deal? 

Well. The page that stole my photo is a business

And on this page...MY photo has been shared more than 12, 000 times. It has more than 35, 000 likes. 

The page itself has over 786 thousand likes. Mine doesn't even have 2, 000. 

This Facebook page is a nameless, faceless business page looking to make money selling t-shirts and bracelets for Autism Awareness.  

But in the process - they stole my a photo of my son and my words without my permission. And they are the ones who will profit. Not me. And not my son.

I don't get paid for writing this blog. This blog has been a labor of love. We're a working class family, struggling to make ends meet. I'm also a student. And while I may get paid to write for and - I'm not ready to quit my day job. I'm not making Dooce dinero.    

I sent them two private messages. NOTHING.

I posted on their wall. NOTHING.

I tweeted them. NOTHING.

Well I reported them to Facebook for copyright infringement.

Would love your support until they take my photo down or at least tag my AutismWonderland Facebook page.

Let them know it's not okay to steal photos without permission - click HERE.

Let them know the photo belongs to Lisa of AutismWonderland - click HERE.
[crossed out - no longer necessary since, they've removed uploaded photo & shared properly]

I wish I could say this is the first time I've seen a big business Facebook page steal an autism mom's photo but it's not. And it's never okay. 

These are our words. These are our kids. Do not let a business trying to make buck take advantage of the small mom blogger who is trying to raise awareness.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March Showers - A Sensory Workshop for Kids with Autism

Click HERE to register 

A Sensory Drama workshop for participants with Low-Functioning Autism

Cost: $40 per family*  

Saturday, March 23, 9AM - 10AM

Parents and their children with low-functioning autism are welcome to participate in sensory activities and drama movement games. Participants will follow 2 characters as they discover what magic can happen during the "wet" month of March. Lasting 60 minutes long, a theatre director and Creative Arts therapist will lead the group in safe activities that promote socialization and help family members have a pleasurable and fun time working together and with their imaginations. Registration is limited. Please send an email to with any questions.

607 Manhattan Ave
Brooklyn , NY
*Mention that you heard about this event via AutismWonderland - you will get a discount :)  
Click HERE to register 

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Build-a-Bear Workshop Honors #Autism Awareness Month with the Autism Speaks Bear

To honor Autism Awareness Month this April, the Build-a-Bear Workshop has partnered with Autism Speaks to make the Autism Speaks bear.

The Autism Speaks bear ($18) will be in Build-a-Bear Workshop stores as of March 27, 2013 (available while supplies last) and $1 from the sale of this bear will be donated to Autism Speaks.

Throughout April, guests can donate $1 (or more) to Autism Speaks upon check out at Build-a-Bear Workshop  stores within the United States on line at     

Cute, cuddly and for a good cause, the Autism Speaks bear will make any child - with or without - autism very happy. 

I'm excited to host a $25 Build-a-Bear Workshop gift card giveaway.    


  • You must post a comment with each entry.
  • Comments will be numbered in the order they are listed and a random number generator ( will be used to select the winner.
  • If you combine entries into one post, you will only have one chance to win rather than up to three.
  • Giveaway is open to Continental U.S.
  • Gift Card will be mailed directly from Build-a-Bear office.
Mandatory entryLeave a comment. 

Additional entries - you must leave a comment for each additional entry:
  • Follow me on twitter - @LaliQuin  
  • “Like” the AutismWonderland Facebook page
  • Tweet: I just entered to win an $25 @buildabear Gift Card via @LaliQuin #autismawareness 

This giveaway will end Thursday, 3/21/13 11:59 pm EST. Winner will be announced on Facebook & Twitter by 3/22/13 Noon EST.  I will contact the winner and you will have 24 hours to reply.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary Build-a-Bear Autism Speaks bear. All opinions are my own.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Boy's 1st NY Road Runners Kids Race

I scanned the crowd of excited kids and anxious adults. There were too many to count. Too many to be out so early on a bitter cold Sunday morning. The wind whipped as we waited for the race to begin. Not only was it Norrin’s first New York Road Runners Kids Race, it was his first race with ‘typical’ kids.
There was music blaring. Kids laughing and chatting. Parents gossiping, running in place trying to keep warm. There were cops and volunteers with their bull horns, whistles and walkie talkies. And all I kept thinking was, could my son do thisWhat if Norrin ran away? What if he got lost in this crowd? I cursed myself for not thinking of bringing his ID necklace.
The kids were divided by age groups. Norrin was with the seven to nine year-olds and among them, he stood out. It is only among Norrin’s typical peers that autism is painfully obvious. The other kids are waiting with their friends, while my husband, Joseph, and I stand on either side Norrin – each of us holding a hand. Praising him for his “good waiting” and explaining the instructions of the race.
I turned to Joseph, “Maybe Norrin should run with the five to six year olds?”
Read the rest on Babble Kid by clicking HERE