About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, May 18, 2007
The Wash Up
Well, it's has been a different sort of week for this blog, but when I first saw that autism awareness week was coming up, I did want to say a few things about it to help those who want to know more about what is after all a very common condition and to show it's very okay to talk about autism openly, so that for you gentle reader, the more you know about it, the better it is not just for you, but for my daughter M as well.

I know that yesterday's post may have been a hard slog to get through and there is something more I want to say about it for those of you that troubled yourselves to read mom-mos and Jim Sinclair's posts and that is none of us are right or wrong about what we said, we simply hold alternate views. I completely understand what it is they're saying, for me, what I saw in their posts was acceptance of autism; accepting it as a valid part of you or someone you know is one of the most powerful and motivating things you can do when you are dealing with it, it enables you to move forward in your life.

A lot of people get stuck for a time in thinking about how unfair, cruel and capricious nature is in giving their child or children autism, some people with autism can also think the same way. Unfortunately, it's a very destructive way to think and it's also wrong. Nature is none of those things and doesn't care at all what we think, nature is about continuation of life itself and will do it any way it can, our concepts of fairness have nothing to do with it. Autism is like a lump of clay that you can shape any way you want. No one fully understands autism and the part it plays, but it most definitely has a part to play in our lives, that apart from notable exceptions such as Bill Gates and Temple Grandin, we largely don't hear about. Autism's footsteps are all around, helping shape our lives.

Autism also enables us to examine ourselves. I've lost count of the number of parents of children with autism that say at some point they can identify an autistic feature within themselves. When children are assessed for autism, some of them do what is known as a CARS test, which basically scores them on a range of behaviours and abilities, the score for autism is somewhere above thirty points. But what if you score just below this? It means you have a lot of autistic features, yet you are not autistic, but the thing is it's perfectly possible to say you are on the spectrum. If it is that some of us possess these features yet are not autistic, is that not a window into how the mind works? That autism is in fact a normal, though not well understood, part of the human condition.

We shouldn't be alarmed that autism seems more prevalent these days, with a given rate of about one in 160. Some researchers think the rate may well have been constant for a long period of time, it's just that we are better at diagnosing it these days, so more cases are coming to light. So what is autism exactly? Who knows, I'll leave that to the scientists and researchers to figure out. I'll just play with my daughter, read to her, talk to her, be with her, love her. That's all I need to know.

I would like to say a big thank you to all those readers who have stuck with me this week and special thanks to mom-nos, kitchen wench, limes & lycopene and I think I have a recipe for that for all recently pointing readers to me, thanks guys, it meant a lot. And very special thanks to Tanna, whose constant support is such an inspiration.

For those of you who have come here through autism links, just to let you know I only do occasional autism specific posts, though I do talk about my daughter M quite a lot, she is an extra thread I weave into my writing.

Right, now I'm off to bake a cake!


  posted at 8:41 am

At 10:11 am, Blogger MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

You make me think the spectrum probably has a place for all of us along the way.
Cake, yummy!

At 1:24 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Neil -

I'm a mom of two kids, one on the autism spectrum who found her way here through Mom-NOS. Just wanted to say that I think your recent posts on autism and language are very thoughtful and well written. I too, can appreciate both sides here.

I still lean toward perferring to refer to my son as having autism, but have become more comfortable with using the term autistic because of Jim Sinclair's essay. I don't cringe anymore when I hear my son's classmates referring to him as being autistic, because it is said in a very respectful and kind manner.

I really have enjoyed reading your blog (and not just the autism stuff), and I think I might be hanging around!

At 1:07 pm, Blogger Maddy said...

Occasional posts on the subject are just fine by me!

At 11:41 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just been slowly reading through all your posts for Autism Week and I've got to say that it was an extremely enlightening read. I think I do prefer your take on how it is only one part of M, therefore you think of her as having autism instead of being autistic - though it may be a large part of who she is, she is much more than just her diagnosis.

Also, I'm horrified/disgusted to read about what happened to you and your friend. Whether the child is autistic or not, children are generally inquisitive and restless, for that man and the restaurant manager to react in that way is completely unacceptable and I'm sorry that you have to deal with these kinds of individuals.

One of my high school friends had a younger brother who had autism and I never really understood what that meant till now - watching that video helped a fair bit too. I think that a video like that would be good for anyone to watch, it is a very informative and accessible explanation of autism for the layperson.

Great series of posts, and I must say that my respect for you has increased threefold, and I think that M is very lucky to have such wonderful parents :)

At 12:42 pm, Blogger Daisy said...

I, too, have a child on the spectrum. His autism is only one part of him, and secondary to his main disability, blindness. And yet, he is a delightful teenager and very social. Your positive and accepting attitude is just what M needs.

At 2:34 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, I'm pretty sure it has.

Hi march day, I call M autistic sometimes as well, especially when writing, sometimes it's convenient, but it is just not how I think. Like you, I'm not offended at all if someone else calls her autistic in a respectful way. You're welcome for a cuppa here too.

Hi mcewen, no worries, I'll still be posting about autism.

Hi ellie, I'm pleased you could take something out of the posts, they were certainly a bit trickier to write than food stuff. That video was great wasn't it, so much going on.

Hi daisy, I reckon positive and accepting is what everyone needs and hopefully gets. We just need to keep getting the message out there. Your son sounds amazing, tell him I said hi. Thanks for reading.


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