I've received a few messages recently about what a privilege it is for people to read about my life with The Boy. And that's really touched me, but the truth is, the privilege is all mine.
You see it's my turn to say thank you, to you. I don't want people to think this blog is some altruistic exercise where I selflessly throw our lives open for the good of others. It's far from a one-way street... this whole thing has had such a positive effect on the two of us. And one of my favourite parts of the blog is now the Comments section.
I really enjoy reading people's comments, and I so wish I had time to reply to them, but please know that every single one of them is read and treasured not just by me but by many of those who visit this site each day. I have laughed, cried, nodded in agreement, questioned what some of you have been drinking and fiercely disagreed with others! I get emails from people telling me they love the 'comments' section as much as they love the blog itself, so to everyone who has ever left a message, you are reaching out and helping people more than you know. And Graeme, I can't wait to collect The Boy from school and share your tomato joke...
I love the different groups that now write in with comments. There are parents, regardless of whether their child has a disability or not, parents who can relate simply because they know what it means to love someone more than any of us ever thought possible. Parents who want to share their story too. There's those who work in the field of special needs, whose care and compassion and desire to make a difference shines through in messages offering support and guidance. Then there's those without children or a link to autism, who just have a desire to learn more about the condition - the simple fact that you are here means you are helping to change attitudes more than you will ever realise.
Then there are my favourite group... those who live with autism inside them every day. There will always be a place for you here. You offer an insight, a way in, a glimpse into your world far more than any words I write ever can. I always said if I had one wish in this life, it would be to have the ability to climb into The Boy's head for one day... sod it, not even a day, I'd take an hour even, a minute, a second... to see what he sees. To experience the world the way he does. And maybe that way I might be able to understand him better. And to those of you with autism, you're the closest I can ever come to that. You offer a beacon of hope that burns brighter than any light. Your words will always, always be worth more than this blog and all the books in the world combined.
So there you go - if I'm making a difference to people's lives, then I just want you to know that it's reciprocated so many times over. All I ever hoped when I started this was that the world might understand my son a little bit more. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine people would take him into their hearts the way you have, and that makes me the proudest Dad in the land.
I'm delighted that each and every one of you have found this tiny little corner of the internet and I hope you'll stick around. Please make yourselves at home, and let's make it as inclusive a place as we all hope and dream the world outside might one day be.
The privilege is definitely all mine.
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.