Expect a Miracle: Understanding and Living with Autism

This inspirational book enables readers to experience, understand, improve, and embrace life with autism.

expect a miracle
photo by David E. Hall

This updated version is a continuation of the included first edition (formerly subtitled: A Mother/Son Asperger Journey of Determination and Triumph). In the six years since the original book release, David has experienced additional challenges and young adult milestones which we address. Also, an exclusive chapter on acclimation to the workplace largely features David’s voice.

“…If you want to understand autism, get this book. If you want to understand autism and create a more inclusive and supportive world, buy one for yourself and another one to share with someone who needs it.”
(see below for full review)

About the book:

A rare combination in the world of autism books (and Aspergers books), Expect a Miracle was written for BOTH professionals in the field of autism AND persons/families affected by it. Its format allows readers a valuable and unique opportunity to comprehend and appreciate life on the spectrum. But in addition, the challenges and lessons revealed are relevant to other differences or hardships, as well.

The juxtaposition of levity and seriousness make this inspirational story a “must read” for persons/families affected by autism or differences, as well as educators, clinicians, health care providers, service providers, and employers. It is also recommended for anyone seeking to learn more about autism and/or creating purpose out of adversity.

Expect a Miracle has been assigned to aspiring professionals as a “required read” by professors in select college courses. It imparts unique perspectives on living with autism. It is also a beneficial requirement for teen students to learn about acceptance, differences, and treating others with compassion (thereby preventing bullying behaviors).

David explains it best:


Synopsis of Expect a Miracle

Co-authored from the separate viewpoints of an autistic young adult and his mother, this work makes it possible to experience life from the perspective of a person on the spectrum, thus enabling an intricate understanding. The book uniquely chronicles the challenges and victories of each developmental stage, including experiences with bullying, college preparation and success, and employment. Inspiring hope, encouragement, and ideas, this book would be valuable to persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder/Asperger’s, their parents and loved ones, and professionals who teach and counsel them. It would also benefit employers, co-workers, and anyone interested in autism. Each chapter concludes with practical tips and lessons learned from the authors’ experiences.


Quotes About Expect a Miracle

Here is what readers with varied autism exposure are saying about Expect a Miracle

“LOVING IT…excellent job. The students are going to love it too!
…a good book to provide a nice overview of autism from a developmental standpoint.”

~Tracy L. Masterson, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychological Science
John Carroll University


“Professors should have all new teachers read this book, parents will benefit,  typical students will learn from it, and students struggling with autism will grow because of the authors’ guidance.”
~Mary  Jo O’Neill, M. Ed. 
Special Education Advocate
Hickman & Lowder Co.


Book Reviews

“I sat down with Expect a Miracle in the morning and didn’t stop reading until I finished it in the late afternoon. This son-mother collaboration is a page-turner filled with lessons on teaching and learning, parenting, collaborating, listening, and true support. 

There are many autism stories, autobiographies, biographies, and guides available, but this book is unique because it offers something for everyone. It is a story of diagnosis, growing up, and thriving. It’s a biography and autobiography; the two voices are perfectly integrated and create a wonderful balance of insight and observation. It is also a guide full of tips, ideas, examples, and reflections. 

This book will certainly be of interest to autistic teens and adults, advocates, self-advocates, families, and therapists, but I think it will be especially interesting to educators as it is organized by school years and even includes a section on college. Teachers will learn a lot from the work samples, anecdotes, social stories, and teaching tools that are highlighted in each section. In addition, they will better understand the power of “embracing differences to make a difference” as it is a central theme of this family’s story. 

If you want to understand autism, get this book. If you want to understand autism and create a more inclusive and supportive world, buy one for yourself and another one to share with someone who needs it.”

~Paula Kluth, Ph.D. 


Author of many books including, “You’re Going to Love This Kid”: Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom


“Often the skills that individuals with autism learn in school fail to translate to skills that are necessary for success in the adult world.  This is not the case in Expect a Miracle, which portrays how an individual can reap the benefits when family members, educators, support providers, and community members work together to provide well-crafted support across grade levels, educational institutions, and community environments.  When that support focuses not just on academic achievements but social and emotional well-being, as well as recognizes the importance of valuing strengths in addition to addressing weaknesses, miracles can happen!”

~Carol Burmeister, M.A. 

Educational Consultant

Co-Author of  FLIPP the Switch: Strengthen Executive Function Skills (COMING SOON: FLIPP 2.0)


I highly recommend Expect a Miracle, Understanding and Living with Autism by David and Sandy Petrovic. The book’s emphasis on preparation for transition points in life make it a must read for every family. When I met David, I knew by his enthusiasm, ability, and sincerity that a miracle would be coming his way. As I read the book, I learned that he had earned the miracle. As a mother and son on a journey, their story will grow as they bring their goodness and experience to the world.

~Gretchen Noetzel Walsh, M.S.Ed.

Academic Support Center, Director Emeritus

Notre Dame College



An incredible book by an amazing mother/son team. David Petrovic is an inspiration for all of us — this book should be on everyone’s reading list.

~Victoria Bussert, M.F.A, M.A., B.A.

Director, Music Theatre

Professor, Theatre

Baldwin Wallace University


“There are a number of things I like about this book.  First, the mother/son writing team provides a thorough and unique perspective to the question of what it is like to grow up with autism.  Next, the book takes a lifespan approach and is heavily descriptive along with being clear about the subjectivity of the experience.  Finally, this book is incredibly well written. The language is clear and accessible and makes it easy to lose yourself in the wonder of the story being told.  I recommend this book to individuals wanting to learn more about what it is like to have an autism diagnosis from the perspective of an individual, as well as a family.”

~Andrew Schlegelmilch, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychologist in Private Practice

“Expect a Miracle” chronicles the life of a young man with Autism from the toddler years through the beginning of his career as a middle school teacher. The reader is swept into the world of David Petrovic and his family, experiencing through their journey the challenges and successes of life and learning on the Autism spectrum.  Whether you know very little about Autism or are an expert in the field, reading this book is not only inspirational, but imparts a critical understanding of what it is like to walk in the path of an individual with Autism. In addition to the hope it inspires, this work also details the practical steps and strategies that this family took to help their son realize his fullest potential and find happiness.  Individuals with Autism, families, and professionals alike will find this an invaluable read.”

~Beth Anne Martin, Ph.D.

Clinical Child Psychologist

Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital

Clinical Assistant Professor

Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine

Case Western Reserve University


“So much has changed in the six years since the first edition of “Expect a Miracle,” making an updated version quite appropriate and very relevant.  When I met the Petrovics our first son was five (now age 9) and had only been diagnosed with ASD for two years. Since that time our second son was also diagnosed with ASD at age 3 (now age 5).  Given that I was (and still am), a Professor of Special Education, I have always been committed to improving the lives of individuals with exceptionalities. However, now that I am parent to two little boys with special needs I am even more devoted to this field.

Initially many well-meaning people commented how “I was lucky,” given my background as a Professor of Special Education. However, despite my formal training and experience, it is most certainly different when it is your own child. You can suddenly feel like you don’t know anything. In the short time that I have been navigating this world of autism I have, like all parents do, read many books on the subject. Some have offered advice from parents, and others have allowed insight from individuals on the spectrum themselves. What meant so much to me as I read “Expect a Miracle” co-authored by Sandy and David Petrovic is that it chronicles their experience, from both of their perspectives, starting just prior to his diagnosis and culminating in David’s young adult years. While my children are still quite young now, in a blink of an eye they will be where David is: navigating the work force and all of the challenges that come with adulthood. It truly is never too early to think about that transition. Reading about someone like David gives me inspiration and spurs my passion for preparing future special education teachers.

I of course appreciated the “lessons learned,” the tips and strategies; but I think what this book provided for me more than anything was hope. Hope that my sons could someday achieve what David has achieved. Thus, I not only recommend this book to professionals as a rare opportunity to see inside the world of a family and individual living with autism, but also to parents, particularly those new to ASD. For if you are like me you will find yourself relating to the challenges, and celebrating the joys and milestones described throughout Sandy and David’s journey.”

~Dr. Katie Krammer, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Special Education

Lake Erie College


“As an educator who works every day with atypical students, Sandy and David Petrovic’s book Expect a Miracle, is a gift.  The book contains a wealth of insights into the needs of my students as well as helpful strategies on meeting those needs.  The unique switching of narrative voice from Sandy to David serves to paint a wholly actualized, well rounded portrayal of their journey.

As a parent, Expect a Miracle provides a poignant window into the lives of families raising a child on the spectrum. What struck me the most reading the book was not the differences between families raising typical or atypical children, but rather the commonalities between all parents who only want the best for their children.  In that most important way, the book builds bridges and creates a stronger community for all.”

~Cynthia JB McGrae, J.D., M.A.

Instructional Advisor

Academic Support Center at Notre Dame College


“I’ve had the privilege of hearing David speak a few times at John Carroll University, and I am always moved by his testimony. Not only is David a fantastic speaker, but his charisma, humor, and faith make him an outstanding individual as well. I admire the relationship he has with his mother, and their partnership is an example for all families to follow. With its telling stories, insight into Autism Spectrum Disorder, and heartwarming (and wrenching) tales, Expect A Miracle is a beautiful testimony of a family impacted by ASD. I look forward to David’s continued success and the release of his second book this summer!”

Gina Talerico

John Carroll University ’21

Psychology Major/Theology-Religious Studies Minor


Expect a Miracle Book Excerpts

*All rights reserved

Chapter One: Why?    

We are not scientists, psychologists, or education specialists. We are simply a devoted mother/son team who embraced this “trial and error” journey years ago with a relentless determination and tenacity that has not waned. Simultaneous with the realization that David had differences and special needs, I began my search for knowledge, for resources, and mostly—for hope. I was desperate for a guaranteed pathway of intervention and the assurance that my little boy would fulfill his potential and find happiness.

There was no such recipe or absolute promise.

What we did discover along the way, however, were countless guardian angels, both lay and professional, who added their support and special gifts to the therapies, programs, and resources we utilized. This combination, along with dedication and hard work, resulted in a truly miraculous and inspirational outcome. Challenges still exist, as they do for everyone, but David has exceeded every dream I dared to dream—and continues to amaze us daily with his steadfast determination to achieve his own dreams.

The intentions and motivation for this book are numerous.  First and foremost, we would like to provide the hope for others that we sought ourselves…

~Sandy Petrovic

Hello! My name is David Petrovic. Now, like my mother said, we are not any kind of Ph.D. experts, but we do have some insight based on our experiences. I am writing this book because I want it to be a beacon of hope for typicals, families, and exceptionals alike. There are three principles that I’ve learned in my life that I want to get across in this book: 

1) Don’t settle for a life that people expect you to live because you have a disability. Go for the life that you “want” and don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of you living that life; I didn’t.

2) I am a person with an exceptionality (key word: PERSON). People with disabilities aren’t mutants or other worldly species; we’re just what we are: people! The one rule I’ve used in my life is the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Simply, you’re nice to someone, you get it back, and vice versa. At school, the office, and social events, don’t be too quick to judge someone based on what you see on the outside. Take a chance to actually have a conversation starter. You may be surprised by what you learn.

 3) Everything happens for a reason! It is my ULTIMATE belief that everything we go through in life has a certain purpose. Whether positive or negative, the experiences that life has to offer make up who we are as people.

Throughout this book, you will be getting the perspectives of both the mother and the son. My mom’s views will be in regular print and mine will follow in italics.