Dear Autism


Image by Tim Sackton (CC BY-SA 2.o)


Day Eight: Reinvent the Letter format  #EverydayInspiration


Dear Autism,

Hey, how are you? I’ve been thinking about you lately so thought I would write you this letter to catch up. Can you believe it’s almost eleven years now since we first met? Actually, it will be my son’s 15th birthday next week which is also hard to believe! But you already know that, right?

Do you remember when we first met?  What were the odds of us meeting? Around 1 in 68 according to some reports but honestly, I don’t think anyone really knows. I certainly wasn’t expecting to meet you that’s for sure. You arrived in my world as a sort of package deal with my son. I never placed an order for you but you were delivered to me anyway. I didn’t even realise that you were there at first but then you started dropping hints. Eventually I couldn’t just ignore the hints and I consulted others “Look, I think there is something” I said “but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Can you see it? Do you know what it is?”. Together we started looking at the clues and working it out and then one day ‘Bingo!’ we worked out that it was you, Autism, and just like that you became a part of our family.

I hope you don’t mind if I’m frank with you here, you were a shock to me at first and I didn’t much feel like welcoming you. In fact I resented you coming in to our life uninvited and turning my world upside down (or so it felt at the time). Honestly,  if I could have packaged you up and stuck a ‘Return to Sender’ label on you, I would have.

Looking back now I can appreciate that I didn’t know you at all in the beginning, when we first met. I judged you and made assumptions about you based on ignorance and fear (sorry about that!). I didn’t really want to have to acknowledge your existence but what option did I have? You weren’t going anywhere and I was forced to get to know you.

As I write this there’s a German proverb that comes to mind ‘Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is.’ That’s pretty apt I think, don’t you?  I can laugh with you now, now that we’re friends. It turns out that you aren’t the big bad frightening wolf I thought you were.

We’ve come a long way together haven’t we? I won’t pretend it’s all been a hoot, it hasn’t; you have frightened me, frustrated me, confronted me and made me cry more times than I care to remember. But we got there in the end didn’t we?  You have also been an amazing teacher, opening my eyes to so many new things and you have made me a stronger person than I ever would have been if I hadn’t met you. And through you I’ve met so many other wonderful people too.

But most of all, because of you I have a uniquely amazing and precious son. For that reason we’ve become good friends over the years, you and me. I know you know how much I understand you and respect you now, but I’m sure you won’t mind me mentioning it again to you now.

Well, I expect you are busy at the moment, I know I am, so I’ll send you my regards and say I’ll see you soon!

P.S. I hope you don’t mind, I’ve been talking about you to some other people I know, I just thought it might be good if they get to know you too. No pressure though!   



Inspiring Beautiful Stories

Day Seven: Let Social Media Inspire You 

Oh dear, I’m really not keeping pace with these assignments for the #everydayinspiration course; never mind every day, my posts are more like every week!  I am inspired, really I am, it’s just that on a practical level I don’t have the time to write and publish a post on a daily basis. Still, I aiming to complete the course but it will have to be at my own pace.

So, Day Seven, and our focus is directed towards social media. I’ll hold up my hands and say I love social media. I have active Twitter and Pinterest accounts but my favourite site is Facebook. I love Facebook! When I read this assignment for today I immediately turned to Facebook for inspiration.

I follow a page on Facebook called Rantings of a Beautiful Mind and it often inspires me. The description of the page is simply ‘word art’ and it consists of just that; photos with words to inspire in the form of poems, quotes or just simple writings. For this blog I have picked two photos from that page that for me connect with the blogging experience.

1. ‘ Your story makes you special.’  This is so true. As I read more and more blogs here on WordPress I am struck by the uniqueness of each and every life story and by the rich tapestry of life created by so many different stories. Each of us has a different story and each of us has something to learn from sharing and hearing those stories.

2. You never know what light you might spark in others, just through your kindness and your example.’ ~ Jennifer Rockwood.   I assume this quote is meant about life in general but I like to think that it is also particularly applicable to blogging. When I started this blogging journey I wasn’t prepared for the meaningful and often heartfelt comments left by readers on my posts, or for the way in which other people’s blogs could resonate so strongly with me. In the WordPress community I have stumbled upon so much kindness, and light in the way of inspiration.

I think a fusion of the above two quotes could perfectly embody the blogging experience: ‘You never know what light you might spark in others, just through sharing your story and your kindness.’ ~ Don’t Puzzle It


The Space to Write

Day Six: The Space to Write

Today’s assignment for the #EverydayInspiration course is a straightforward one; the question posed is where do you write? 

I’m not sure that this makes for a very interesting post for readers. I did consider just completing this task privately and not posting it here on my blog, but I guess there’s no harm in sharing it here.

I don’t have a specific place where I write. For me the key element I need to write is solitude. I write in different physical locations; at my desk, at the dining table, sitting in the garden, in bed, in the car (not whilst driving obviously! but as a mother of three children I do spend a lot of time waiting around in my parked car)……you get the idea, the location doesn’t really matter to me.

What does matter to me is that I need to have the mental space to be alone with my thoughts and inhabit a bubble of solitude in order to write. I can’t seem to do this when my family are around, somebody always needs to ask me something it seems and that distracts my flow of thoughts, so at home I either write when I’m alone or I try to seek out a quiet space and hope noone finds me there! 🙂  I can however ‘switch off’ and ignore people in public spaces. I can sit in a cafe for example and inhabit that bubble of solitude to write. Alas, I don’t often find myself alone in cafes to write though.

Similarly, I don’t have a regular writing routine or a time of day that suits me best for writing. I tend to write at random times when inspiration strikes or a line of thinking occurs to me. Of course more often than not this happens at inconvenient times and I find myself grabbing the nearest scrap of paper (think receipts, shopping lists, back of car park tickets –  I have a lot of my ‘best’ thoughts whilst driving!) to jot down key points so as not to forget what I was thinking. I’ll then use these notes when I have the time to write more fully. I find this system of writing, as and when the mood takes me, to be much more productive than if I made myself write at scheduled times. I spend my life thinking, observing, listening and reading and I never know when something will inspire me to write.

In an ideal world I would write everything the old skool way, i.e. with pen and paper. Somehow I find that typing stilts my creativity, most likely because I have never learnt to type properly, whereas handwriting is completely intuitive for me. For my own personal ‘writing’ I always hand write in notebooks but for blogging purposes I am finding myself typing directly on my iPad more and more just to save time.

And there you have it, there’s really nothing more to the where’s and how’s of my writing than the above mentioned.

Do we still have time for coffee?

I’ve been meaning to invite you to have coffee with me for a while but life, it just gets so busy sometimes! But I’m here now and I hope we still have time to grab a quick coffee together this weekend and would you like a brownie to go with your coffee? I made some with my eight year old yesterday, please do help yourself.

I must admit that one of the reasons I am late with this coffee post is that I have been reading a book that I can’t put down. ~ The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty ~ Ever since the husband’s secret was revealed in the story (I won’t spoil it and tell you what the secret is of course!) I have been compelled to keep reading to find out how everything turns out in the end. It’s the second book of Moriarty’s that I’ve read, the other was Big Little Lies which I also loved. I think that she writes people so well, her characters are instantly recognisable as people we all know somewhere in our lives. She has written quite a number of books and I would definitely recommend her as an author.

Another reason I am squeezing in this coffee post today is because I have been busy on my blog with another BloggingU course here on WordPress. It’s the #EverydayInspiration course and I’m really enjoying it. It’s stretching me in my blog writing and possibly pointing me towards new directions. All good things.

But enough of the general chit chat, this blog was meant to be a platform for me to talk about autism and I know I’ve been drifting off topic a lot lately. That said, maybe that’s not a bad thing, maybe that ties in with one of my main messages about autism; yes I have an autistic child, and yes autism is ever present in our family life but it’s only one aspect of our life and it doesn’t define my son or our family life.

Anyway there is one thing, autism related, that has been really irritating me this week that I wanted to offload with you here over coffee (if you don’t mind). As you can imagine, I read most articles I come across in the media about autism. This week I read an article published in a well known British newspaper that talked of a potential new test researchers have devised which could diagnose children with autism at a much younger age than is currently the norm. Honestly, I am tired and irritated by the proliferation of these types of articles, the ones that contain a lot of words like ‘possible’, ‘potential’ and ‘maybe’. This particular article went along the lines of ‘researchers have possibly discovered an indicator that perhaps could be used in the future to possibly diagnose autism in young babies, maybe; but we’re not sure yet.’

Who remembers when the Duchess of Cambridge was due to give birth to Prince George? Remember how the world’s press were camped outside the hospital days before the birth giving regular news reports to the effect of ‘there’s no news yet, she hasn’t given birth’? I feel like there are too many articles published about autism that are like that, i.e. they don’t contain any real news. What is the point of them? Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for research that furthers our *understanding of autism, but I only want to see headlines about it in the media when there is something substantive to report. I don’t want to read that something maybe, perhaps has possibly been discovered about autism that we don’t already know. And don’t even get me started on the ‘possible link between eating sandwiches and autism’ type articles (I’m being highly sarcastic there in case you didn’t spot that!) that are published practically on a daily basis. I see no value whatsoever in reporting completely random and baseless speculation about autism. To me it’s just irritating, but there are other people out there who place their hopes in these kinds of crackpot myths and speculative reporting can be very damaging.

And breath. Rant over, and on that note I will wrap up my complaining and say that I hope to get time to share a coffee again with you next week……now, if you’ll excuse me I need to get back to that husband’s secret! 🙂


*I use the word ‘understanding’ intentionally. I believe that autism is a neurological variation, a non typical neurotype, with a genetic basis. I DON’T  believe that it is a ‘disorder’ or a ‘disease’ that needs a cure. I am interested in autism research from the point of view of understanding the neurology of it , what that can teach us about the differences between neurotypical and non neurotypical minds, and how society can best accommodate these differences.

The Perfect Quote (Ironically!)


Day Five: Hook ‘Em With a Quote

Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.  ~ Mark Twain

You may have noticed that I am running a good few days behind in these my daily assignments for the BloggingU course #EverydayInspiration. The Day Five assignment was to use a quote to introduce a post.

Now, the thing is that I did sit down and think about this post actually on Day Five and I did have a quote in mind to use and I was excited about the post I was going to write around that quote. So, what happened? Well, the post introduced something that has been in my head to blog about for a while but it’s a post that I want to get ‘just right’ and for the past few days I have been grabbling with a feeling that I haven’t yet done enough research and thinking to write the post in the way I want to write it.

I took this course because I have a bit of a weakness for on-line courses, if the truth be told, and since blogging is new to me I’m eager to learn anything I can to improve my writing. The course looked like a lot of fun too, and indeed it is, but I wasn’t expecting it to cause me to self reflect quite so much as I have done. My need to do things ‘exactly right’ has become glaringly obvious to me this past few days as I’ve been thinking about this assignment. Of course, all the while I’ve been delaying on this the Day Five assignment, I’ve been falling behind the course schedule which is giving me further ‘perfectionist angst’. Posts for subsequent assignments are circling in my head like aeroplanes in a holding pattern waiting for the all clear to land (because my perfectionist self won’t let me proceed with the next assignments until this one is done, of course!)

Today I had a good talk with myself. “This is silly” I said “for goodness sake just choose a different quote, get something written down and move on. You can always write the ‘just right’ post another time.”

So that’s what I have done. For the sake of moving on with the rest of this course, today I am posting this ‘not at all right’ post, and I think you will now see why the quote I found to introduce this post is perfect, ironically!  🙂

Can’t See the Wood for the Trees?


Day Four: A Story in a Single Image


For this exercise, use one of the images above as the creative spark for today’s post. You might use it as the setting for a story or poem, write about how it makes you feel, or describe the memory it conjures.


I’m finding this assignment a little difficult. In fact, this is the first time that I have started typing a blog post with absolutely no idea of what I am going to say. Using a visual prompt has left me a bit lost. Is the woman in the image lost too I wonder?

Sure I can tell you how the image makes me feel but I don’t think I can make a nice, constructive post about autism out of those feelings. This is going to be a complete free write of my thoughts in response to the image, a spilling onto the page of whatever comes into my head.

It could be that the woman in the image is alone and afraid and she is standing still in the forest paralysed by fear. But that’s not what I feel is happening when I look at the image. I think that this woman is in control of her situation. I feel that she is looking straight ahead of her with purpose and conviction.

I think that she has a journey to make and it might be a difficult one but she can handle it. I feel like she has stopped on the edge of the forest to take stock and mentally prepare herself. She knows where she wants to get to and she knows there will be unexpected obstacles along the way. Some of these obstacles she will be able to simply climb over, some she may have to find a way around and others might make her bang her head against, well a tree I suppose! But she is prepared to take this journey on anyway. She is a little fearful, naturally, but she can talk herself through this fear and stay strong. She knows she can do it. She trusts in herself and her capabilities. She just needs to take a minute before she begins to take a deep breath and prepare herself and then she will set her focus and go for it. And she will find her way through the forest. Of that I am certain.

Well, I don’t know what all of that means, if anything at all. I suspect it’s subconciously some kind of narrative on my own life or maybe it’s the more specific narrative of my journey with my autistic son. I don’t know. Whatever it is, I kind of like what I’ve written. What is your interpretation of either my words above or the image itself? Feel free to comment!




Day Three: One-Word Inspiration

For this assignment I have chosen the word Underestimate as my one word inspiration.

When my son was first diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of four I feared worst case scenario. I imagined his future and assumed all the things he would never be able to do or achieve. As time went on I began to learn how wrong I’d been to assume these things. I had underestimated my son’s capabilities and I’d underestimated autism.

At the beginning of our own autism journey I didn’t know autism and I didn’t understand it’s potential. Alas, I suspect that this is the case for most people who have no first hand knowledge of autism. It’s understandable of course, but the shame of it is that it means that both autistic children and autistic adults are persistently underestimated by society in general.

Take employment for example. The statistics for the number of unemployed autistic adults make for depressing reading. Autistic people are just as likely to have skills that are valuable in the workplace as non-autistic people but their skills are often underestimated. Why? I believe that one of the main reasons is because the interview process is naturally biased in favour of non-autistic people. Potential employers are likely to underestimate the actual skills an autistic person has because they don’t see beyond the ‘awkwardness’ or ‘quirkiness’ of the interaction that takes place in an interview setting. A standard interview situation plays straight to all the weakest skills of an autistic person and doesn’t allow for their strengths to be showcased.

On the flip side of the coin, I think that the non-autistic world often underestimates the depth and nature of the challenges that an autistic person has to manage in life particularly where the autistic person has learnt how to mask their inner self and mimic neurotypical behaviours in order to assimilate.

I’m just skimming the surface and over simplifying the issues I’ve touched on here (it was either that or writing a thesis length post! 😉 ) but these are my initial thoughts in response to the word prompt.