A New Idea for 2017

If we were having coffee I would inevitably have to pass comment about how long it has been since we last had coffee together. We’re already in to February and this is the first blog post I have made this year. In my defence many things have kept me from being able to sit down and write recently; I’ll spare you all the details, let’s just say it was life stuff!

Well, I’m here now and you’re here so let’s drink our coffee and catch up.

I want to tell you that I have recently started reading the book ‘family pictures’  by Sue Miller. It’s a novel that spans several decades, a family saga about a family that includes an autistic son. Now, I have my own little story relating to this book. I have already read it once before, well over ten years ago. I picked it up randomly along with a few other books at a second hand book sale at my daughter’s school. I wasn’t paying that much attention to the book choices I was making, I was more thinking about doing my bit to support the school funds. I do recall that it was actually just the picture on the cover of ‘family pictures’ that caught my eye and that was why I bought it. Who said you should never judge a book by it’s cover?! 😉

I started reading and finished the book very quickly. Afterwards I passed on the copy I had, either to another charity or to a friend, I don’t remember now which. But the story itself never left me. There were a couple of happenings in the book that struck me very vividly and remained alive in my memory years afterwards. At the time I read it my (autistic) son was very young, a baby still, and I had no idea back then that he was autistic or indeed any inkling that he was in any way non-typical. As the years went by and we started on our own journey with autism as a family, mental images from the book kept coming back to me. I’ve always found it a little haunting (for want of a better word) that one of my strong memories of the mother and son from the story later became a reality in my life, even though I had no notion that my life was heading that same way when I read the book. Over the years I have come to think that it was not coincidence that I picked up that book that day at the school sale. I believe that it was meant to be, that it was some sort of unconscious premonition.

So, why am I reading it again now you may well ask? Well, although I never forgot the story, I did forget both the name of the book and it’s author. I have wanted to re read it for years but it’s difficult to track down a book without knowing either it’s title or author! Of course I did vividly remember the cover picture of the copy I had and for years I kept my eyes open for it when in book shops but that’s really not a very efficient method for tracking down a book  🙂 . I had also made vague attempts to search for the book online, but with so few details to work with I drew a blank.

Eventually I couldn’t let it be. I felt a huge need to re read the book and determined that it had to be possible to find it online. Thanks to the site http://www.goodreads.com and their listopias I finally found it after trawling through lists of books with autism in them. I immediately bought a copy from my favourite online second hand book store, http://www.awesomebooks.com, and that is why I am currently reading it again.

And why am I telling you all of this now over our coffees you may well be thinking? Because as I was reading an idea came to me. One of the things I hope to do with this blog is to further the understanding of autism beyond the autism community in a low key, accesible way. I am an avid reader and naturally I often read books that are related to autism. It occurred to me that I could write about these books in my blog posts and share my reviews and personal thoughts about the books and the way they address or portray autism.

There you have it, my plan for this blog for 2017. The books I will write about will be a mixture of fiction and non fiction and of course the first one will be ‘family pictures – Sue Miller’. I’m really looking forward to writing the posts throughout this year, and I hope you will enjoy reading them.

The #Weekendcoffeeshare  is hosted by Diana on her blog Part Time MonsterFollow the link to read other coffee share posts and find out how to join in yourself. 

Meetings and Those Moments.

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If we were having coffee today I would be grateful for the chance to sit down and chat with you over a nice hot beverage. It’s been a busy week for me but today I have space to relax for a while and share a story with you.

On Thursday I had a meeting at my son’s school. Let me tell you something, when you’re the parent of an autistic child life becomes one long cycle of meetings, appointments, phone calls and administration. It’s all for a good purpose of course but it does get exhausting at times.

The meeting I took part in this week was a particularly important one to discuss my son’s future. He is in his final year at the school he is currently attending and we need to hatch a ‘What next?’ Plan for him. For me this is a stressful time and there are difficult decisions to be made. There were seven of us in that meeting, all of us have been working with my son in one capacity or another and know him well. Still, at this point we are struggling with ideas for his immediate future.

In the midst of the seriousness of the discussion there was a moment that really made me smile. My son’s teacher was describing where he is at in terms of his development at school and she mentioned how well he contributes to class discussions and how vast his general knowledge is. “In fact” she said “he is always teaching me things that I never knew”. At this everyone else around the table, myself included, nodded their heads in agreement and laughed knowingly. My son is a fountain of knowledge, he teaches everyone he meets things they never knew! 😊

That is one of the amazing things about autism. Autistic people often have what is described as ‘scattered skills’. Neurotypical people tend to be relatively consistent in their abilities across skill sets, but autistic people tend to have large variations in abilities from skill to skill. Thus autistic people can perform significantly below average in some areas, average or thereabouts in others, and significantly above average in yet other areas, all at once.

The shame of this is that people tend to focus heavily on the things that a person with autism struggles with, and when they do this they are overlooking and missing out on the many areas in which that person may have remarkable and exceptional strengths. I hope to encourage people to look more at the strengths.

The #Weekendcoffeeshare  is hosted by Diana on her blog Part Time MonsterFollow the link to read other coffee share posts and find out how to join in yourself.