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Parent You Should Know: Laurie Carmody

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Laurie Carmody became familiar with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) through her sister-in-law, who has autism—and a love for teddy bears.

That led the picture book author and mother of two from Monrovia to put her talents to use and write a book that could help children with undiagnosed autism feel seen and heard.

When her protagonist, Corey—a boy with undiagnosed autism— feels overwhelmed by the crowd of classmates at a school event, he doesn’t know what to do. But he soon realizes how to use his passions to connect with other kids through play.

“Big Truck Playdate” hits the shelves March 7. Carmody is also a homeschool teacher, pianist and member of a nonprofit, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Prior to picture books, she created training programs for adults and taught preservice teachers how to use technology in the classroom. She lives with her husband, Seth, and their children Ellie (11) and Owen (9).

What is the most meaningful challenge you’ve faced so far as a parent?

I would say during the pandemic I homeschooled both kids for a year, and that was a very big challenge because not only was I the parent but also the teacher, and it taught me a lot about how my kids learn so differently, and that one size doesn’t fit all. Figuring out how they best learn and doing it in a fun way was definitely a challenge. We read a lot of books that year because that’s my particular strength.

What do you love most about parenting?

What I love most is that we learn together. I love the fact that I never really know what adventures we’ll be headed toward next, but we’re together in it and we’ll learn along the way. It’s like we’re on a little boat, all four of us, navigating together. It’s a great feeling to know you have all these people in your boat with you.

What do you hope your children learn from you?

I really want them to learn that they can go for their passion. I write a lot about passion—little ones, big ones and all the ones in between. It’s hard, but we can do hard things, and they can do hard things. That’s the biggest thing I want them to learn. I’ve had so many failures along the way, and they will, too, but they can keep going, and if it’s something they’re passionate about, they can get there.

What do you like about living (in Monrovia)?

The horses. I like the space—there’s a lot of open space. We pass horse farms, we see pigs, all sorts of animals on our drive. There’s a lot of flavors of everything. I can retreat to my space, too. I also really love the community.

My neighborhood is fabulous. We all look out for each other. A stray dog showed up about a month ago, and the community helped this dog find a place to live. There are things to inspire all around me.


Family Favorites

Meal: Hamburgers

Vacation Spot: Stony Brook (State Park). We go camping, and it’s called Camp Carmody. We load the car up to the brim and go tent camping in upstate New York for a week.

Dessert: Ice cream sundaes. My kids love to put piles of whipped cream on the top.

Book: It’s called “Thanksgiving at the Tappletons” by Eilene Spinelli. We still laugh so hard at this book. I think we’re going to be reading it when the kids are 40. It’s about a family that makes all the wrong decisions about Thanksgiving. It’s fun to read together, and we do all
the voices, and we’ll mention this family even throughout the year.

Local spot: The libraries! That’s my personal happy place, and my kids’, too, because they’ve inherited my love for books. We also really like to go to the Urbana district park. There’s a little pond here that we like to go to. It’s a little off the path.

Preorder “Big Truck Playdate” at