When I started this blog, I was my son’s storyteller. His communication skills were so limited, and the future of those skills still so unclear; there was a good chance I would always be his storyteller, as the person in his daily life who knew him best. Sharing his life stories, was always a matter of sharing my stories too, because I was such a central part of his access to and experience of his world. I was his “interpreter” in so many ways – both helping him to understand others, and helping others to understand him.
The years passed, and if you’ve been with my blog since the beginning you went on that journey with me as he found his voice. His words became sentences more often, his sentences slowly became more meaningful. He started using increasingly challenging concepts. His echolalia made way for his own unique ways of expressing himself, and it was a beautiful transformation towards his growing individualism.
In time, and when he was truly ready, I gifted him the words he needed to talk about his own autism, as an essential part of who he is. His understanding of what it has meant for him to have autism – both now and in the past – grows each year. Just like watching him learn to find his own voice, watching him come to understand his own autism has been quite a wonderful journey to behold – my son is expressing and shaping himself now.
So naturally I would get to the point of explaining to him that I blogged, and that on this blog I tell stories of him and his autism, and of autism and advocacy around autism. He’s OK with it, he finds it kinda neat really. I haven’t given him free access to read everything I’ve ever written, here for a variety of reasons, including that I don’t want him to feel sad for how hard its been (he’s a kind gentle boy and he would feel bad about it), and because my own views of autism have evolved so much over the years that I no longer believe everything I have ever said on my blog about the condition (well, at least not in the fine detail, and my boy is one for the details). There will come a time when he can and will read all I’ve written, it is his story too, he has a right to see how it is told.
So I find, year by year, step by step, I hand over the role of storyteller to my son: He has the mind, and the words, and the skill to tell his own story now. He has a life ever-growing independent of mine – I still help others understand his mind and perspective when he confuses or shocks them (or they him), but he is not as reliant on me. Next year I will even be looking for work again, I can actually contemplate having my autistic son going into before or after school care, these are huge steps for him and me both. As he grows in independence from me, I am free to find myself again too – who am I, what do I do for a living, it’s no longer completely defined by being the carer for an autistic son (or two).
In turn my blog evolves: I write less often as my life expands beyond autism, I write more carefully knowing he has a right and ability to tell his own stories now. My blog is in a state of flux, limbo, transformation, whatever it is, it’s not what it was. Our whole family is in a state of transformation, it’s natural my blog reflects this. I am cautiously optimistic about the future – both mine and my son’s, we’ve both come a long way. And on that journey you have read along side, sharing the pain and triumphs, the successes and failures, you’ve supported me or attacked me, but either way cared enough to feel it was worth sharing your opinions with me on my blog. Where the story goes now, who tells it to whom, how and why, I guess we’ll see. If you stick around, you may be here the day that my son becomes the writer – becomes the storyteller of “Autism and Oughtisms” – and I think that would be the greatest and best transformation for this blog of all.