Image from wikipedia ‘simple balloon’


My lovely boy has begun being more helpful around the home. When I praised him for it he replied, “I’m 17 now, Mummy, so I don’t find it as hard to be grown up as I did when I was younger.” Prince said this while clearing off the table ready for tea, having unloaded the dishwasher without even being asked and having picked up some litter off the floor which our naughty¬†delightful Chip had casually discarded (she’s a s*d for doing that). Meanwhile, I felt like crying, because this boy, this young man, has been the subject of many a prayer, especially for his future. His anxiety, as well as the time it takes for him to process a situation, had led us to wonder if he will ever live independently, let alone support himself. Now we have a smidgen of hope. We’ll see.

It’s strange how that happens sometimes with autism. A child shows no sign of doing something that you would expect of a non-autistic child and then, all of a sudden, they can do it, as if by magic! Even if they’re several years beyond the age that their non-autistic peers did the same thing. For example, until he was five Prince had almost no voluntary speech; he just repeated what was said to him, very precisely, and often completely out of context. This is known as ‘echolalia’. All of a sudden, virtually overnight, he began speaking in proper, original sentences. The same happened with toilet training, wetting the bed, tying a knot and all sorts of other things over the years. We would try to explain, in very simple language, what behaviour was expected. We would carefully demonstrate, over and over. Prince seemed to understand (or not – he can have a noticeably blank expression), but would carry on regardless. Then one day he just did the thing correctly and that skill remained part of his repertoire.

Miracles can happen. Just love a child with autism. You’ll likely be tearing your hair out in frustration many times over the years, and one day something happens, like fitting a jigsaw piece into place. One day he realises that this particular jigsaw piece has been upside down the whole time, so he just flips it round and pushes it into place, and you feel the same awe as if he performed a miracle right in front of you.

How much more worthwhile is the celebration, the joy, in finding the one little lost sheep when you know the other 99 are safe in the fold?

“…what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbours, saying, “Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.”

Luke 15:8-9 (NRSVA)

Treasure in jars of clay, indeed!

The Prevalence of Autism and Life with Chip

This is a very interesting article from The Economist ‘Why it’s not ‘Rain Woman” which possibly answers the question of why so many more boys are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders than girls. Of course, my readers will know that Prince has autism, but his little sister Chip, although very bright and more socially advanced, still lacks ‘EQ’ (the social/emotional equivalent of IQ, if there were such a thing). She doesn’t understand jokes and misses subtleties of behaviour. On the other hand, so do many men/boys and I perhaps would not notice, or indeed comment on it, if she was a boy. Interesting. What do you think? Have you noticed differences between your non-diagnosed children and their peers? Have you noticed your female non-diagnosed child has certain ‘autistic’ traits? Mind you, as for traits, I definitely have them – and so does Frank! Enjoying one’s own company (aka introversion) is one. On the other hand (lots of hands today, I must be an octopus), what was I saying? Um, on the other hand, Chip is a strange balance of extrovert and introvert. She loves being the centre of attention, she’s a natural performer and says she wants to be an actress when she grows up, but she also loves reading. She gobbles up books and is quite happy entertaining herself. She also does some strange things sometimes.¬†Like the other day, when she broke wind and, instead of saying “pardon me” she said, “Shut up, Marcus!”


“Who is Marcus?” I asked, mystified. I thought it must be an imaginary friend.

She broke wind again, “That’s Marcus,” she said, grinning, “my bottom is called Marcus!”

I was rather lost for words. The other two are very polite. This one…