Carmel Valley resident Chantal Sicile-Kira is dedicated to educating others about autism, a passion that has driven her to author several books on the topic. She began working with autistic adolescents more than 20 years ago, helping them prepare for their de-institutionalization. Little did she know that several years later that experience would prove invaluable when her son was born and eventually diagnosed with autism in Paris, France, where the only treatment offered was psychoanalysis. Her search for appropriate care led her family to England, and then the U.S.
Her son Jeremy, severely impacted by autism, graduated from Torrey Pines High School in June 2010 with a full academic diploma and currently attends Mira Costa College. Her daughter Rebecca graduated from Canyon Crest Academy in June 2010, as well, and attends UC Davis. Sicile-Kira is currently writing her fifth book to be published in April 2012 by Macmillan, and is preparing to launch an online resource:
- What brought you to this neighborhood?
My husband was brought over by Lego from the UK to help project manage the construction of Legoland. We chose Carmel Valley for its excellent schools, nearness to the beach, closeness to the airport and to downtown San Diego.
- What makes this community special to you?
The people, and closeness to the ocean.
- If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add or subtract to improve the area?
I would add more variety in terms of the architecture in Carmel Valley.
- Who or what inspires you?
My son, Jeremy, and all those like him. It is really difficult for them to do many of the ordinary, everyday things we take for granted. As well, my daughter Rebecca, and all the autism siblings out there. It’s not easy for them growing up 24/7 in a home impacted by autism.
- If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
I would invite the President and Michelle Obama, Stephen Spielberg, Tim Ferriss, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Jamie Oliver, and I’d like to squeeze in Arianna Huffington as well.
- Tell us what you are currently reading.
The Neighbors are Watching, which takes place in Carmel Valley; The 4-Hour Work Week, and Age of Autism.
- What is your most prized possession?
I’d say my family, but you can’t possess people, so I’ll have to say my iPhone. It can help me out, entertain me and inform me wherever I am. It can also take messages so I can disconnect from real life whenever I like.
- What do you do for fun?
Read, travel, walk Torrey Pines or the beach, cook and dine with friends, watch movies, and exercise.
- Please describe your greatest accomplishment.
Raising my two children to be the best that they can be, and writing four practical books on autism. I often get emails from parents telling me how much my books have helped them when their children were first diagnosed, or when they are going through a rough patch. There is no better feeling than knowing you have helped someone with information they need in order to feel empowered to move forward in a positive direction.
- What is your motto or philosophy of life?
"What is important is not what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us." — Jean-Paul Sartre
The above was compiled by staff writer Marlena Chavira-Medford. If you would like to be considered for this feature, or know someone you'd like to recommend, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 858.756.1451.