Yeah, her name is Maude, what's the problem? Okay, no it's not, she's actually anonymous. Or is she? Yes. Yes she is. What?
I’ve been on this road for a good while now. He’s 14. And yes, he still has Asperger’s. I didn't always know that's what he has and in fairness, you took on this role before he was diagnosed. But you are his stepfather now, a stepfather who had never experienced the kaleidoscopic world of autism before, so I completely understand that it can be a scary and confusing world at first. At first. Not six years later.
Yes I know it's crap to hear the man child say ‘fuck off you wanker’, (although, in his defence, he has only actually ever said that twice in six years, which is pretty good.) 'He doesn’t mean it', I say, 'it’s part of it. It's a meltdown.'
Watch him stim so energetically that the walls feels as if they are on fire; 'What is he doing that for?' you say. 'Because it makes him feel really good', I say, 'it's part of it.'
(I love watching him stim, my firefly dancing.)
Hear him talk about his favourite programme again and again and again, oh god it’s four hours and COUNTING… You know you can suggest to him that it's his turn to listen, or give him a time limit. That will help him, he needs that explicit guidance. But you don't.
You say he’s an isolated child who needs too much space, who doesn't look at you when he's talking, who won't eat at the dinner table with the rest of us, who is costing a lot of money as he needs the same t-shirts laundered three times a week, who can be 'wildly' inappropriate…and you tell me our family is fractured and that even though it's not deliberate or intentional, it's my son's fault.
There's probably 5 gazillion books you can read that tell you all about autism. You're a clever guy, you could even read some of the more complex ones. I'm trying to be polite, to quietly simmer, but fuck when will you….READ THE MANUAL??? You'll see that all the attributes you find so irritating are autistic in nature. Most of the time, the boy can't help it.
And permit me to say something definitive, something staring-you-right-in-the-face true. HE IS 14, YOU ARE 43. There's a bit of a discrepancy there, y'know in life experience, gained wisdom, hormones..
I need you to get this. I need you to learn about this. I need you to give him a break.
I love you. But I really love my son. In fact I find him easy to love; even when he is at this worst that is true.
Because there’s no choice in this.
If you ever decide to weigh it all up, to dance around an ultimatum?
I’ll choose him.