Ah, well, seven months on since I said I’d write a new blog every couple of weeks, and here we are… I’m not sure what my excuse is, the dog ate my homework won’t quite cut it I don’t think. It’s all too easy for me to suggest that The Boy has been struggling and leave it at that, but maybe I should be honest and just say that I lost my way for a bit. Lost my confidence in my writing, my parenting, and all the rest of it. So no more promises about when the next blog post will come – it will come when it does, let’s just leave it at that for now.
There’s been some lovely things within the fog of the last few months. A bit I recorded for Radio 4 earlier last year was selected as one of the BBC’s Magic Moments of Radio 2015, and also featured on Radio 4’s Pick of the Year 2015. You can still listen to it here.
The book is finally scheduled for release on 1 September 2016. I’m sorry for the seemingly endless delays, I’m confident the date won’t change this time. Things going on at home meant I had to be certain the timing was right, that’s all.
And so on to the most important person in all this, The Boy himself. Even using the phrase ‘The Boy’ seems strange nowadays – he seems so much older, so much more grown up. There isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t amaze me by just how far he’s come. In my last blog post I said I wouldn’t update his story further, but I feel I owe you a few words to let you know how he’s doing.
The short answer is, he’s doing well. Very well. He’s as tall as his Dad nowadays and likes to lean cockily with his elbow on my shoulder, just to remind me. He’s not sure about the prospect of getting older though, and still has his reservations. “I don’t like growing up”, he told me a few weeks ago, “the floor looks further away.”
He had some surgery on his legs at the end of last year, and surprised us all by how quickly he recuperated and went back to school. As a result he’s more mobile than he has been for a while, although the wheelchair is still very much around for him to leap out of at a moment’s notice.
New school continues to go very well. And I continue to hesitate every time I say that. The anxiety since his treatment at his last setting hasn’t really gone away, and I’m not sure it ever will, for either of us. I’m a bit more knowledgeable now than I was though, less likely to accept things on face-value and far more likely to challenge when I think something isn’t right.
A couple of weeks ago The Boy was going on his first school trip. Paintballing. Yes, I know… visions of PJ and Duncan in Byker Grove flashed before my eyes. I hesitated over the consent form for a while, but after a few nervous phone calls with The Boy’s mum, eventually signed on the dotted line.
The Boy was also nervous about going along. He was fine with shooting other people, that bit was easy, it was the prospect of being hurt himself that caused the issue. The morning he was due to leave, he was up early, having barely slept, pacing the lounge.
“You’ll have a great time”, I reassured him, “you’ll love it. I remember when I went paintballing and I was a bit scared at first but then I really liked it.”
The Boy stopped pacing and looked up.
“You’ve been paintballing?”, he said.
He grinned, and all the anxiety that was on his face suddenly disappeared.
“You like paintballing”, he said relieved, “and I look like you! That means I’ll like paintballing too…”
Ah, go get ’em, soldier. Walk tall.
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.