It was The Boy's birthday yesterday. He's eleven now. I took him and TheBoyWithLimitedSpeech and TheBoyWhoLikesWarwickDavis swimming (TheBoyWhoDoesntStopTalking couldn't make it). Then we all went to Frankie and Benny's with The Mum to throw food around the floor and steal chips from my plate. It was brilliant.
They put you in a reflective mood though, birthdays. It's been a funny week... This blog up until last Thursday was read by around 150 people a day. Then the BBC printed the article about bowling, and since then it has been visited over 125,000 times. And I've received so, so many lovely emails (over 800) that I'm slowly working through. It has been amazing. I've loved hearing other people's stories - shared tales of love, of day-to-day struggles and brilliant laugh out loud moments, together with people who have had no experience of autism at all. And then the icing on the cake has been the adults with autism who have been in touch too - so often the forgotten voices in all this. Sometimes I sit at home throwing words on a screen and wondering if any of them are being read. Now I know they are, and I can't thank you enough.
And it's made me question why I wanted to write the blog and the show in the first place. And I guess it's this...
We all want people to love our children. From the moment they're born we listen out for the "isn't he cute" or "she's soooo adorable". And sometimes... sometimes autistic children can be difficult for other people to like. Phoning the Nursery to tell them he won't be in today because he's sick and hearing the relief in the voice on the other end of the phone. In Reception class being told by a parent that children like mine should be locked away. Going out for a family dinner knowing full well it will be 'my child' that ruins it. Being told by teachers 'I don't know how you do it' which is just a politer way of saying 'I couldn't put up with him'.
Well, The Boy is a wonder. He's my wonder. Despite the challenges, or maybe even because of them, he's the very best thing in the world. You could line up every precious diamond in Minecraft and it wouldn't come close to how precious he is. And of course I'm biased. But I want people to give him a chance. To see past some of the strange, challenging behaviours and the outbursts. To chip away at some of the rock and discover this brilliant, dazzling Boy inside just waiting to shine. That's why I wanted to tell our story. We only celebrate disability in this world when there is a skill involved. The Paralympics, amazing though they are, celebrate the ability and aptitude of the athletes. Well, sometimes, just being is enough. And we don't celebrate just being enough. Yet it's in the smallness, in the everydayness of life that real beauty occurs. And that's what I want all this to be about. Just a celebration of the everyday. Of being.
And if you look closely enough, you might just discover a diamond.
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.