SEARCH: Author Spotlight on Lillian Csernica

Author Spotlight on Lillian Csernica

Name: Lillian Csernica
Location: Santa Cruz, California

How has the last year dealing with COVID been for you?

On the one hand, it’s been business as usual because my older boy is medically fragile. We’re used to operating at a level just below hospital standards for an isolation room. On the other hand, I’m going a little crazy because I’m used to having a certain amount of alone time each day. Keeping both of my sons busy and entertained is a lot of work. It’s difficult to have enough energy left over for writing.

SEARCH Magazine is a little unusual, in that we always run a column on autism to raise awareness. How did you come to write about autism for SEARCH Magazine?

Through the wonderful and talented Emerian Rich (SEARCH Magazine’s original Editorial Director)…

Continue reading in the Summer 2021 magazine issue on Superheroes.

SEARCH: Chasing the Horizon

Chasing the Horizon by Lillian Csernica

In this new world where many families are sheltering in place, parents must find creative solutions when it comes to keeping our kids happy, healthy, and moving forward. A predictable, consistent home life with a regular routine is a key element of good mental health. This provides a safe space for the exploration of something new.

From Why is Routine so Important to People with ASD? “Though it might seem counterintuitive, reinforcing routines can actually help those with ASD to stop relying on them so much as a crutch. Routine can be powerful in reinforcing a feeling of well-being and stability for autistic individuals. When that sense of stability and wellness is fulfilled, then it can actually be easier for them to handle other changes.”

Read more in SEARCH Magazine‘s Enhancing Your Horizon issue.

SEARCH: Flexible Family Festivals

Flexible Family Festivals

by Lillian Csernica

The pandemic has turned life upside down. All over the world, people must now shelter in place, wear a mask, and endure being cut off from family and friends. The future continues to be uncertain.

What’s more, winter will bring another big challenge with the holiday seasons full of family gatherings, exchanging gifts, lots of noise, lights, and color, and special traditions. During an ordinary year people on the spectrum shy away from such benevolent disruptions. This year has been anything but ordinary with the annual holiday difficulties further complicated by the toll the pandemic is taking on all of us. How much more difficult must it be for the neurodiverse, especially adults and children on the spectrum who might not be able to understand why their personal worlds have changed so drastically.

Holiday Traditions
One of the most important aspects of the holiday season is family tradition. Many cherished traditions may be impossible this year after Public health officials have identified private parties as one of the most dangerous environments for spreading the coronavirus. How can we create alternatives that will become just as meaningful?

Continue reading in SEARCH Magazine’s Fall 2020 issue.

SEARCH: Self-Defense and Self-Respect

Self-Defense and Self-Respect

by Lillian Csernica

Lightspeed2The key to women’s empowerment is the empowerment of our children. When women, still the majority of primary caregivers, raise their children with strength, discipline, integrity, and compassion, those children will grow up healthier, more confident, and willing to speak up for the people who need their help.

Excellent resources for both physical fitness and character building can be found in the world of martial arts. E. Paul Zehr, Ph.D. is a professor of neuroscience and kinesiology at the University of Victoria, the author of Becoming Batman and Inventing Iron Man, and head of innovative work in the Rehabilitation Neuroscience Laboratory, focusing on the recovery of function after neurotrauma using integrated whole body movement. In his Black Belt Brain blog on the… Continue reading in SEARCH Magazine’s Spring 2020 issue.

SEARCH: Reaching For The Stars

Reaching For The Stars
by Lillian Csernica  

59480290_1266744913482742_2669551250839699456_nPeople with autistic spectrum disorder sometimes develop a strong interest in a specific subject. That interest can progress to what some might call an obsession. 

While neurotypical children may grow out of a particular “hobby” and move on to more age-appropriate subjects, ASD children often find what they like and stick with it. In the educational field, the term “preferred interests” describes the activities or areas of study that interest ASD people the most, distinguishing the interest from being a fixation or an instance of perseveration.

In January 2017, Kristin Patten Koenig and Lauren Hough Williams published Characterization and Utilization of Preferred Interests: A Survey of Adults on the Autism Spectrum. The study explains why these “preferred interests” are not drawbacks but vital elements… Continue reading in the Fall 2019 issue.

SEARCH: Bring the Zoo to You

Bring the Zoo to

by Lillian Csernica

DIYZooSummer is that wonderful time of year when people get out into the sunshine. A favorite destination is the zoo. There’s nothing like seeing a tiger roar in person or watching a hippopotamus enjoying a swim. Here’s a way to make it possible to visit the zoo every day, and the zoo can be completely different every time.

A large pad of white paper, the type sold for finger painting.
Painter’s tape
Waxed paper
Craft sticks
Pipe cleaners
Colored markers
Play-Doh or its off-brand equivalent
Cookie cutters shaped like animals
Stickers (animals, food, plants and flowers, balloons, etc.)

This list can be expanded to include whatever you and your fellow zoo builders want to use. A trip to the dollar store can provide everything you need for less than ten dollars.

Time: 30 minutes for the basic zoo. You can add as many details as you like!
read more in the Summer 2019 issue.

SEARCH: The Wonders of Kyoto

The Wonders of Kyoto

by Lillian Csernica

Kyoto-cc-by-SAIf you’re interested in experiencing the wonders of both ancient and modern Japan, then you must visit Kyoto. I live in California. It took one car, three planes, a bus, and a taxi to get me from my home to the hotel in Kyoto. Does that sound exhausting? It was, but what I found in Kyoto made it all worthwhile.

Kyoto Station Kyoto Station is huge and beautiful. The clerk at my hotel assured me I could find whatever I wanted inside Kyoto Station, and she was right. In addition to the train station, you’ll find a theater, two malls, a museum, a bus station, a 540-room hotel, and at least two dozen restaurants. Kyoto Station has its own zip code. No wonder! It’s a city unto itself. Someone is always ready to help, both the officials and the everyday folks.

At Kyoto Station, they’re used to helping foreigners find their way around, and many of the taxi drivers are eager to practice their English language skills. One driver played American rock-n-roll on his radio. While we talked about his favorite bands, he opened the glove box and … read more in the Spring 2019 issue.

SEARCH: Qualified to Serve

Qualified to Serve
by Lillian Csernica

AutismMy grandfather, uncles, and father served in the U.S. Navy. I asked my son John if he wanted to join the military. Although, he doesn’t like guns or barracks life, he does believe people with Autistic Spectrum Disorder shouldn’t categorically be denied the opportunity.

However, if he had been interested, he would not have qualified. Any diagnosis of ASD disqualifies you for appointment, enlistment, or induction into the United States Armed Forces. Like most neurotypical people, the military mistakenly believe people with ASD all have identical symptoms. provides these specifics:


  • Permanent motor or sensory deficits.
  • Care by a physician or other mental health professional for more than 6 months.
  • Symptoms or behavior of a repeated nature that impaired social, school, or work efficiency.
  • Specific academic skills defects, chronic history of academic skills or perceptual defects, secondary to organic or functional mental disorders that interfere with work or school after age 12.
  • Current use of medication to improve or maintain academic skills.

When it comes to determining fitness for service in the armed forces, the data available now shows .… Continue reading in the Winter 2018 issue of SEARCH magazine.