It’s Autism Awareness week. It does feel like it should be Autism Awareness Week every week, every year until we finally start to make some real progress. Let’s not kid ourselves as we have are only just starting down that road.

This years theme is centred around inequalities. Inequalities that have become even more stark and exposed during the pandemic.

I tell you what is unequal. Bridge building. It’s always up to the autistic person to try and build those bridges. Our society, our institutions and too many of our communities are not interested. They see Autism through inaccurate stereotypes. Something to be ignored or brushed under the carpet. We’ve all experienced that approach. Individuality is frowned upon. People need to be forced into set moulds and templates.

Yesterday I was listening to the words of a really wonderful, unique and brilliant teenager. He was talking about his struggle with autism. His daily fight with inequalities and ignorance. Why was it so hard for people to understand. He was saying that every day he heard so many false stereotypes. But in fact he had a sense of humour, he liked having fun, he liked having friends, he had feelings, he cared. He was as valid as an individual as anyone else.

That lad wasn’t different he was UNIQUE. We all should be. It’s a better world for that.

We all should be welcomed and supported.

Building Bridges

A fine northern river. Many bridges connecting both sides of the city. Without those bridges and the city is split asunder.

Son do you want to go out for a blueberry ice cream?

No it’s ok Dad.”

Son do you want to go and visit your Auntie. We can keep 2m apart when we get there?

Not this week.”

How about visiting your favourite toy shop. It’s open?

No I’ve got plenty of stuff to do.”

What about going to that remote walk and going to see that Neolithic site. We can stop off and get one of your favourite pizzas?

No, maybe some other time.”

These are some of his favourite things. In 2019 the slightest mention of any of these would have sent our Son running towards the car. That’s all changed now. He has most definitely burnt his bridges with the world. He is also in no rush to start to build them again. Many people will be in the same boat. We have a community split asunder. Split in more ways than this….

I understand someone from the so called Government was not happy with pupils been kept off school. Kids should be forced back to schools as it will be good for them. They don’t have the slightest idea about Mental Health awareness. Good job we are ignoring what they say.

It’s going to be a long road back for some. Certainly for our Son. It’s pointless putting a timescale on it. It will happen when it happens. Until then the bridges will remain down and we make the best of it. I’m looking out across the next door farm and into the distance. We are so blessed. We certainly can make this work for us. No rush for bridges here.