Autism isn't a gift.
Let's trample on that myth. If it is a gift, it's the equivalent of someone spending £0.0003p on a £5.00 Secret Santa present and then rolling it in crap, wrapping it in broken glass and asking George Osbourne to hand it over.
Now I grant you, there are upsides. The Boy has a quirkiness to him that everyone loves, myself included. But what's to say that quirkiness wouldn't have been there anyway? The trouble is there's no marked line between where The Boy ends and his autism begins. The two of them are so intrinsically one I couldn't possibly separate them.
The biggest problem is that 'Autism - The Gift' comes with a free supplement with Issue One. And that supplement is 'Anxiety'. And it's often the anxiety that's the hideous part. The relentless hand flapping, repetitive behaviours, thirst for routine and sameness - they are all to try and create order and sense in a world that makes no sense. And it's the anxiety I hate to see in The Boy. Eating away at him inside. It's so often etched on his face, seeping out of every part of him. The bitten fingernails, the little tics, an external nod to the internal pain. All any of us want is for our children to be happy. That's it. And for the most part I hope and pray that The Boy is. But for every smile, every laugh - and there are plenty - I know under the surface there is an anxiety that rages and burns deep inside of him, twisting and turning, festering and growing, and it never, ever, ever goes out.
So the next person who tells me that autism is a gift can stick it where the sun doesn't shine. Autism has taught me a lot about myself. It's taught me patience. It's taught me calmness. It's taught me how to separate two bits of Lego with my teeth. But this isn't about me. It's about The Boy. And until he glows each and every second of every minute of every day with a happiness that envelops him like the Ready Brek kid, it can never be a gift.
So, don't bother telling me about the next issue of 'Autism - The Gift'. Unless it comes with a free pull-out supplement called 'Acceptance'.
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.