So, The Boy came to visit me in Edinburgh on Tuesday for the day. I hoped he might stay over for the night, but the strange flat was too daunting and overwhelming for him. So his mum collected him later on that evening. It was still a brilliant day of marshmallow men, brown slugs in toilets and 3-D shadow puppets. I try to avoid cloying sentimentality in this blog (honestly, I do), and although Edinburgh has been an amazing experience, I've missed him more than I ever realised I would. And I find writing this blog difficult without him nearby. I feel like Barry Chuckle without Paul.
However, on Wednesday night I went to see something very special. The lovely people at Scottish Autism organised a show as part of the Fringe called 'The Tree and the Abbey'. It was a play telling the story of the history of Fife, acted by autistic adults. It was even better than I thought it would be.
It covered everything - there was music, dancing, singing, talking crows attacking scarecrows, elephants, circus strongmen, hot air balloons, a mining disaster and even the horror of war. Lots of laughter, and a fair few tears along the way. The performances of everyone involved were just amazing.
The impact of that play has stayed with me long after the actors took their final bow. Watching adults dealing with their lives with autism raised so many questions in my head. I've often wondered what kind of adult The Boy will become. And whenever I try to picture him, at the age of twenty, thirty, forty or beyond... I just get a blank. It often seems too frightening a proposition. Will some of his less savoury traits diminish with time? Will he live an independent life of some kind? How much will his cerebral palsy limit his mobility? Too many scary questions sometimes.
But watching that show filled me with hope. And hope is something we don't fill our lives with enough. I have no doubt that the road for many of those who performed on Wednesday night has been less than smooth - the horror stories of adult services, the difficulties of getting support in a time when autism wasn't as well recognised as it is now. Yet somehow, through all that, they were doing okay. They'd found their level in this world. There were so many times in the play when it was difficult to tell which was the support worker and which was the autistic adult. And they were the very best bits.
So although The Boy may be four hundred and thirty one miles away by now (who's counting?), on Wednesday night he was very much there. I saw glimmers of him in each of those on the stage. An eye movement. An out-of-time clap. A mischievous smile. And it made me realise that sometimes I spend too much time worrying about a future I can't control. Maybe, just maybe, he will be okay.
He'll find his level too.
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.