In some respects The Boy is struggling to find his way in the world once more. Or maybe it’s the other way round, and the world is struggling to find a way to The Boy… he’s spent so long trying to conform, that sometimes I wish it was the rest of the world that would bend a little more and at least meet him halfway.
It struck me that in the middle of this storm, there are emails, letters, referrals and reports being written about him on an almost daily basis. Yet the more that is written, the further away from the real him they seem to become. Certainly they will list the behaviours, the concerns, the proposed strategies and so on, but they won’t even begin to come close to describing him. The real him. Perhaps it’s another reminder why I wanted to share our story. Because if I don’t write about the real boy, then sometimes it feels like his childhood will be lost forever, evaporating into the ether or even worse it will become buried deep under mountains of paperwork detailing behaviours and misdemeanours.
So to that end I wanted to share two short stories that happened recently. They’re not particularly groundbreaking, but they mean a lot to me. Because these two stories encapsulate him. My son. They come closer to describing the very essence of him than any report ever can.
Story one goes a little bit like this…
The Boy doesn’t like seeing homeless people. It upsets him. He isn’t offended by them, far from it, it’s more that he just struggles to get his head around the notion that some people have nowhere to call ‘home’.
So, a few weeks ago we wandered into Tesco. And there in the entrance was a local foodbank. They were collecting donations, and had printed on a piece of paper the items they were looking for. I told The Boy they helped to give food to those people who didn’t have enough money. He asked if that included the homeless. I said yes, it probably did. So we took a printed list, and I told The Boy that he was in charge and he could pick two things from the list to donate. The list was filled with household essentials - shampoo, tinned meat, pasta, baked beans. Boring things apparently. The Boy refused to pick any of it. We’d finished our shopping at this point, and still he’d selected nothing for the foodbank. I asked him if he wanted to get something that wasn’t on the list instead. He nodded. “What do you want to buy?”, I asked. “I want to get hot chocolate and biscuits so they can have them at bedtime”.
Story two is a bit shorter…
The Boy came home the other day and said that he felt sad as there was a teacher at school whose grandmother had died. “That’s sad”, I said, “what did you do?”
“I gave him a hug”, The Boy told me. “And I said to him, ‘I’m sorry for your loss’. Because that’s what you say when someone dies. I saw it on Tracy Beaker.”
Keep being brilliant, son. Shine bright. The world will catch up eventually.
This blog is about bringing up The Boy. He's 12 years old and autistic. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.