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 will address. Also, an exclusive chapter on acclimation to the workplace will largely feature David’s voice.

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


“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


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. Congruent with the claims of experts, our personal testimonials will exemplify that many skills and behaviors deficient in persons with Asperger’s Syndrome CAN be learned. We will show that self-fulfillment and happiness CAN be obtained . . .

. . . Everyone has strengths, and everyone has weaknesses. It must be remembered that even typicals** have social skills flaws—no one is perfect, and everyone has gifts to contribute to the good of all. In addition, it might not be realized that not all the characteristics of AS [Asperger’s Syndrome] are negative: there are some commendable and amazing features that are, in fact, coveted and treasured.

The previous statement provides me with the perfect segue to another purpose we have in writing this book. Different does not equal inferior. We hope to stimulate an epiphany of understanding and tolerance for those who are perhaps unknowingly prejudiced towards individuals with differences, with AS being one of them. We implore these parties to rethink their assumption of superiority and to give relationships a chance! Go beyond superficial Asperger idiosyncrasies to explore and connect with the person within—you may never experience more talent, sincerity, loyalty, or unconditional love. So much has been written about individuals with AS having problems with understanding the ways and perspectives of the mainstream. This is my attempt to address the reverse. We aim to educate and inspire the “typical” world’s understanding, appreciation, and acceptance of those with AS.

. . . Though each person with AS is distinct, we hope that there are select anecdotes in this book that resonate with every reader. Our hope is that others may benefit from our experiences. Following each chapter, the “lessons we learned” are a summary of personal convictions and conclusions. They are a subjective culmination of what I have surmised on David’s unique life journey. Some lessons were gleaned the hard way: they were learned from my mistakes or missed opportunities. Others took root from the people, strategies, and occurrences which positively impacted David’s still-evolving success. Surely, readers will not unanimously agree with all of my decisions, deductions, or tactics, but I hope additional avenues for help or improved quality of life may be illuminated nonetheless. . .

**Simply for ease in writing, I occasionally refer to individuals without AS as “typicals,” shortened from “neurotypical,” as frequently seen in other works. I intend no offense with this categorization and hope none is taken. . .

~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.