It was just an ordinary evening. I was curled up in front of the fire, watching television with my son when my eldest daughter bounded into the lounge. She had been chatting on facebook with her friends, discussing the up and coming American elections when she decided to tell us that Mitt Romney wanted a cure for autism. Now I don’t know how true that is and in any case it is not relevant for this post because what I want to share with you is the conversation that followed.
Aware that my son would have heard my daughter’s comment I thought it best to try and include him in the discussion. I mean this is about him (and his younger sister). Any plans to cure autism is going to have a global reach and may affect my son and daughter and any children they may have in the future.
So I turned to my son and asked what he thought. “Do you think autism should be cured?” “No, its a waste of time” he replied. “What do you mean?” I answered, curious to get more of an insight into his thinking. “Well I already have it. We can’t take it away”. There was a pause and then he added “I’m free”. “What do you mean by free?” I asked but by then my son had had enough. He had run out of words and the conversation had come to an end but in a way it didn’t matter because in those few words he had said so much about how he saw himself and what he thought about the idea of curing autism.
I felt very proud of him because for so long he has been unable and unwilling to talk about autism. But now I realise that he has been thinking about autism and what it means for him and it seems he has a pragmatic but positive take on it. His description of being “free” suggests that he sees himself as being free from some sort of constraint; perhaps he sees himself as being a free thinker or being free from neurotypical rules? Whatever the explanation it was a good moment in which I started to see an emerging maturity in my son.
(My son has given me permission to share his views.)