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Sunday, December 19, 2010

A beautiful poem by Gail Hennessy



To an Autistic Child

by

Gail Hennessy


Little butterfly
enclosed in the cocoon
of your own shadowed world.

How can I reach you little shadow?

Locked in a silent nightmare
you scream my name.
Your one word—my name
not ever with joy
but always in searching.

Scarred knees from too many falls
stumbling steps behind your quicksilver brothers.

Dance little shadow
smile to the colours of the music
grasp the bright notes.

Please little shadow
turn around to face the light.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Happy Christmas




Spring is sprung, the grass is ris,
I know, I know, I know it is.
I asked my mower man how often to come?
Weekly at least, he said, without a hum.
Oh crikey, I thought, does this guy know me?
I haven’t enough to pay that fee!
I swallowed an answer, what else could I do?
For after all, I can’t afford anyhoo!
I muttered a rumble just to be polite,
I didn’t want the poor bloke to take fright.
Finally I croaked, ‘Perhaps a bit less...
I couldn’t see any need to confess.

Spring is sprung, the grass is ris,
I don’t wonder where the birdies is!
They’ve been at the mulberry tree,
That’s as plain as day to see.
Why all over the path there are signs of shit-
It’s no mystery why there’s heaps of it!
They’ve had the feast I wish I could,
Except, in reality, it would do me no good.
For Christmas is coming, like it or not,
And from my point of view I don’t give a jot.
I wouldn’t mind if it lasted two days,
Perhaps then I could handle as the nerve frays.

Spring is sprung, the grass is ris,
There’s a new place where my belly is.
And now here’s the time I make my defense,
Christmas in Australia doesn’t make any sense,
Just out of hibernation, weighing a ton,
Is not the time for Yuletide fun.
The weather is fertile, the breezes are warm,
The cold front or the other one is creating a storm.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I can only object,
I’ve only one choice and that’s to defect.
I don’t want Christmas, it doesn’t want me,
So why the bloody hell can’t I just be free?

Seriously? HAVE A GOOD ONE!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Our mate Sam




She came to us in times of strife
From her eucalypt home on high,

Until a man named Tree
On ground did spy,

Scarred and burnt, she made us think
As David offered a Samaritan drink,

Pictures world-wide spread the news
A fanfare with great acclaim,

Stealing our hearts
And earning fame,

Tears fell on August seven
As SAM ascended to her Shangri-lah heaven,

Her life’s fight lost
Hit us so hard, at such a cost,

In this year of two-thousand and nine
As all Aussie’s did but pine,

Sadness and sorrow
Visits once more,

But her sweet memory, will long remain
A ray of sunshine mixed with pain,

Sharing Pharlap’s mantle
It will come to pass,

For she too
Will be behind glass,

In Koala heaven
Now happy and free,

Nibbling at leaves
Back in her tree.

Sam lives-on
In all our hearts,

Her life’s struggles
Our minds never do part,

First, Mountain-Ash centre
Wildlife she,

Recovery at Rawson
Life’s fight thee,

Now bandaged, pink-socked
For all to see,

Clinging to her
Eucalypt tree,

She is our emblem
Of Victoria’s fight,

Against dreaded fires
Our Aussies plight,

Now Sam’s there
For you and me,

Melbourne Museum
Our thoughts run free,

For behind glass
Never a sham,

Just go and visit
Our mate SAM.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Yuletide or not Yuletide




Every year is the same. In spite of my best intentions Xmas turns into a shambles. It’s a bit like ‘whatsisname’ the grubby boy from Charlie Brown who manages to get covered in grime every time he leaves his front door much to the dismay of Lucy who is permanently clean, tidy, well presented and in a bad mood. Perhaps they all go together. The experience of being the only perfect person in the mix must make for some sour feelings, after all the rest of us are doomed to failure when compared with those who are sublimely addicted to the flawless performance of the Xmas rituals. And any other rituals at any other time actually.

A choice slice of martyrdom is served up alongside the Xmas bird. It is as inevitable as any other part of the tradition. Even if you make a pact with the lady of the house to have no presents—there will be presents. If you organise paper plates there will be extra cutlery. If you bring plastic cups and cutlery there will be three tablecloths and several dinner sets needed. You can’t win when someone is bound and determined to wring the neck of the Xmas experience and squeeze every drop of cheer out of the yuletide season.

Five years ago was no exception. However there was a new dimension added to the whole debacle. I was licked before I started, if I had only known. Every year I try to do some little thing that I hope will go some distance to breaching the gap, between the expectations of the perfect day, and the pathetic standard that I am actually able to meet. Having done the whole shebang one year myself — just to prove I could — I returned to doing a special few things that may be unique. That year I decided on the ice-cream Xmas pudding. This would be my “piece de resistance”.

Suffice it to say that the pudding wasn't a hit. I forgot that my sons see dried fruit as appealing as seeds in watermelon, and everyone else wanted "tradition". By the time I heard about it, all I wanted was "out". The Yuletide Lament began, but didn't end there.

The best year we had was when everyone was present, thus leaving no-one to be the sacrificial lamb, and Mum had made that most wonderful of blunders and bought alcoholic cider, instead of the usual non-alcoholic fare and got a little merry indeed.

But that year the sugar plum fairy had danced in my mother's head and instead of being the recipient of her usual Christmas Lament, I was the unwitting cause of it. I will leave well enough alone, except to say that I went home with my youngest son vowing to invent my own Yuletide Lament. With a little luck, I will have it ready for the next Xmas season, when it is more than likely that no-one will be talking to me, much less listening.

So this year I plan to have Christmas with the homeless. Whether that will be as a guest or a helper remains to be seen. My last budget figures showed that challenges were ahead, which sounds like a cheap astrology reading.

Either way I'll pretend. After all, that's what Christmas is all about.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Our Stories Should Never Die



The bench stands empty now
Its once proud frame decaying
The ornate cornices speak
of days of glory long past
It rested many a weary soul
on their way to the old homestead
Who came? Who went? Who passed by?
How many joyful children
tumbled, climbed and jostled there?
How many lovers’ tender embraces?
Those stories are gone
Our stories should never die.


We found a place. An ABC website, “The Making of Modern Australia”. With tentative steps and soft voices we came, sharing our words, our lives. Enthralled by the chance to write our own piece of history, to contributes to the archives of time. Living across this wide brown land, we joined hands across the divide, because we found more than a place—we found each other. Long out of the school room, beyond the reach of the dreaded red pen of censure we found acceptance and affirmation. How could this be? Everyday Australians taking part in the voice of history. Our friendships grew across the miles. We began to greet, then meet and share more of our lives with that wonderful bond of Like-mindedness. We found a place.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The secret life of my father...



I couldn’t believe my ears.

The jubilant sounds of honky tonk music filled the house. It wasn’t the telly. I went to check our piano. There was my father, who I had never even seen sit at a piano, playing with gusto. He looked up. Along with the usual twinkle, there was a slight wariness in his eyes.

‘Don’t tell your mother.’

I nodded, pleased to be part of his conspiracy. If Mum knew he could play the piano, there would be no end to the nagging and pleading for him to play in public. There would be words of ‘duty and wasted talent’. The likely thrust of her arguments would be to push Dad in the direction of playing in church. Dad’s shy nature would shrink from the glare of the spotlight. Why, he only ever stood at the front of the church to adjust the sound system, or occasionally go to the microphone and say, ‘Testing, one, two, three.’ He seemed uncomfortable even doing that.

I zipped my fingers across my lips. His secret was safe with me.

‘Good girl.’

‘Play some more please, Dad,’ I begged. ‘Just for me?’

Dad lost himself in the joyous rhythms of honky tonk music, the soulful sounds of the blues and then swung effortlessly into the famous hymn, ‘Abide with Me’.

‘Wow! How can you play without sheet music, Dad?’ I asked in bewilderment.

This was confusing indeed, as I had been studying the piano for a couple of years and my stubborn fingers laboriously struggled over each note. I was always curved anxiously over the piano, looking from page to keyboard, note for note, then back again, never quite connecting the two. And there sat Dad, playing as if music was his mother tongue, working the piano pedals effortlessly, as his hands glided over the keys.

Dad answered my question about the lack of sheet music with a vague, glib statement, muttering about ‘playing by ear’. I was not convinced. He made it look so easy.
I knew of his passion for Broadway musicals. Every Sunday would find the two of us happily ensconced in front of the TV for the midday movie. We watched Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, Frank Sinatra—pretty much any musical that was on offer.

‘How come Mum doesn’t know you can play like that? Weren’t you at College together?’

‘Oh, your mother doesn’t have to know everything. I never played the piano at College.’

‘How long have you been able to play like this?’
‘Ages, I guess.’

I gave up prying and just let me music lift me, up and away. Then, suddenly it was over.

‘Ah, duty calls,’ said Dad, closing the piano lid and springing from the piano stool, leaving me in a land of magic, hungry for more.

These special times were infrequent and random, but they never coincided with Mum’s presence at home. Dad made a Hawaiian guitar and he played that quite often at home for us all. Mum didn’t pressure him about playing the guitar in public, deeming it ‘unsuitable for church’, but she made no secret of her pride in him.

‘Your father can do anything,’ was her proud pronouncement.

For myself, I just wished that I could play something…anything. After four struggling years, even Mum had to agree that my musical talent was non-existent, but she persisted with my brother. She bought him a cornet. Mum believed in giving her children Every Opportunity.

‘Oh Mum, couldn’t you buy Peter something quieter,’ I moaned whenever Peter practised. It was my opinion that my brother’s musical ability matched mine—he had none. ‘Buy him a flute, Mum, they’re really quiet.’

‘Stop picking on your brother, Linda. He’ll get better with practise.’
He didn’t, although he must have improved his breathing capacity, because he got louder.


‘Your father doesn’t have to know everything,’ said Mum as we sat quietly in her blue Mini Minor™ outside our house.

We had indulged in our shared passion of buying fabric for sewing. Mum’s friends, Max and Clare Roberts, owned a fabric store, a place I dreamed about at night. I had learned to sew quite early in life as it provided me not only a creative outlet, but also with freedom of choice with clothing. I no longer had to endure the navy shirt-dresses that Mum declared made me look slim and elegant.

‘What rubbish, Mum,’ I would protest. ‘I look like I’m in the Navy. And with this hair, I’m never getting remotely near ‘elegant’. You want me to wear shirtdresses because you like them.’

‘We better go in I guess,’ I muttered, looking down at our pile of fabric bolts, all neatly wrapped in brown paper. There were yards and yards of fabric. We had really over indulged. Mum sighed. I knew she was thinking the same thing. Mum’s mind was ticking over.

‘Go and see where your father is,’ she suggested. ‘Then come and tell me.’

I was more than happy to comply. Most of the fabric was for me, because Mum still hadn’t moved on from the one dress she’d made me when she went to ‘tech’. I knew what was expected of me. With the stealth of a spy I slipped into the house. When I knew Dad was well and truly busy in the shed, whistling while he worked, I ran out the front door and beckoned furiously to Mum. She leapt out of the car. I was ‘lookout’ while she stacked the fabric bolts in the huge wardrobe in the spare room.

This trickery was also repeated on other occasions when Mum bought dresses or shoes for herself. It was a great piece of farce as Mum had her own money and so did Dad. Thus, there was more pretence than actual deception going on. Once, when I was on ‘lookout’, Dad sauntered past and winked at me. I flushed bright red until I realised that he was enjoying the game. I thought it was really funny after that. They both had secrets that were pretty tame.

‘Why don’t you just tell Dad when you buy clothes, Mum? He wouldn’t mind.’

Mum paused, a cloud crossing her face. Maybe she was remembering her lectures to Dad on the ‘exorbitant’ cost of his tools.

‘Ah, he doesn’t need to know.’

‘But what about when you come out in a new dress? What then? He’d have to know then!’

‘Nonsense. Your father wouldn’t notice if I was wearing a hessian sack.’

Mum nearly jumped out of her skin early one morning on our way to church, when Dad blithely commented on how lovely she looked.

‘That’s no hessian sack, Else,’ he said with a wicked grin.

‘Hummph,’ muttered Mum, frustrated at being caught out.

Dad, however, was never caught out. I later learned that while he was a student he played honky tonk music for the dances at the community hall on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’. I found a photo of him in elegant flares, posing like a professional, with a three piece suit and carefully arranged tie pin. He stood confidently; hand on hip, casually leaning on some nearby railing, looking very sharp indeed. His eyes were full of whimsy and intelligence. There was no sign of the reticent, retiring man I knew as the public image of my father.

So much for shy.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Wallsend Library Book Launch - Murphy's Law prevails



One of the differences between an ‘Aspie’ (Asperger) and a non Aspie is that while an Aspie is always expecting everything to go wrong, the rest of us approach the day with the idiotic view that we’ll make a plan and march seamlessly through the day. When something goes wrong for the Aspie, they will say, “That’d be right.” The rest of us bang our heads and say, “I can’t believe this!”

There are some days that sort the ‘sheep from the goats’ to coin a Biblical phrase. Today was one such day.

I woke late. But that’s okay because it was imperative to paint a lorikeet at 1.00 am, everyone knows that. the trouble with waking late is that a significant portion of your cranial matter spends the better part of the day arguing with the other portion of your brain as to whether it is morning, or in fact, not. This deliberation can hinder any other thoughts that you had planned on having for the day. Like what you were going to do after you woke up.

I tried to write a list, but by the time I had found my glasses, pen and paper – the phone rang. It was Carol, the Head Librarian for the Hunter Region (she has several other titles but don’t expect me to remember them). She wanted to know if I had received the email with the book launch invitation so that I could ‘sign off’ on it and she could sent it to the printers. It didn’t show up in my email box and with the worrying memory that one the emails I sent a fortnight ago took a week to arrive I tried to think of another option. Ouch. I had to get to another email inbox asap to receive the message. I thought of my helpful neighbours.

Running over to my neighbours I found that Barrie, the second in charge, was in the same kafuffle as I was. He’d slept late. As a retired bank manager he was less accustomed to this state than a registered nurse who ‘didn’t know night from day’ for all her training years and made a solemn oath never to attempt 'weird hours' again.

While his computer was warming up I phoned Carol to tell her his email address. Then my lapsed brain cells came to life for a brief minute and I remembered that I had a second email address that was set up when I first joined Westnet. I told her this address, if for no other reason than the worry that I was wasting her time. The email arrived and after correcting a typo, I okayed it.

So then I was ready for the rest of the day. Theoretically, that is. I drove to Newcastle and organised a test run of my art work and had a wonderful conversation with the print guy about our mutual rate of decay. He also suffered from back pain so we compared medications and side effects. After working out the details of the artwork and also coming to the conclusion that we would both end up as grumpy paraplegics because we kept doing exactly the things that aggravated our pain, I went to my next appointment.

Just as I got out of the car it rained buckets. I never take an umbrella – I insanely believe that by the time I have put up an umbrella, I could have arrived at my destination. This is quite often justified in downtown Cooranbong, but by the time there was a break in the Newcastle peak hour traffic, I looked like a shaggy drowned rat.

Carol arrived with the launch invitations when I was having lunch and shaking off the chills at Goldbergs in Darby Street. I sunk into the chair in relief, enjoying my hot chocolate. It was so sweet of her to save me the trip to the library. When I finished, I looked up to pack up, and there on the table was Carol’s phone. Arrggh!

It looked expensive, but what did I know. It looked complicated, maybe it was so technologically advanced that it could feed her cat when she was away. I had to get it back to her. At the library.

On the way there I looked at the phone. What would I do if it rang? It might be Carol phoning her number, hoping I had it. The dilemma in my head became real as the phone rang. I answered with my usual “Hello”.

No response. Not Carol then.

“Carol’s phone” I answered, in a slightly more professional voice.

“Um... is anyone there?” I added, wondering what poor soul I had cast into confusion.

A child’s voice mumbled something unintelligible that ended with Jayden. Oh, good, here was something, a name at least. But now I was feeling really daft, walking in the pouring rain, answering the phone of someone I hardly knew, headed to the library without any idea if Carol would be there when I arrived. I gave a comprehensive explanation that I thought was most enlightening and asked, “Did you understand any of that?”

“No.”

Oh dear, I started again and aimed for simplifying my spiel. Now those who know me will realise what a big ask that is. It takes me four or five drafts to clarify any writing exercises. If anyone has followed this meandering tale without hitting a bump thus far, it would be a miracle.

I tried again, with dubious success.

I then asked, “Is Carol your mum?”

“Yes.”

“Right, I am taking your mum’s phone to her at the library and will tell her you rang, is that okay Jayden?”

“Guess.”

Then my motherhood instinct kicked in. This kid might be in trouble. Some children weren't like mine who considered the milk getting low to be a catastrophe.

"Are you alright, Jayden?" I asked in my concerned motherly voice.

"Ah......yeah."

After arriving at the library my shaggy wet hair had frizzled into an untamed afro. After getting through the library security system I was finally able to reunite Carol with her phone. We had a bit of a giggle over our faux pas for the day.

“Um...Jayden rang," I muttered. "Ah, I answered the phone thinking it might be you. Um...you may need to phone Jayden...or not.” I smiled my best smile. My conversation with Jayden hadn’t been a raging success.

She rolled her eyes and chuckled.

“If your child needs therapy after a conversation with me, I know a really good shrink,” I threw over my shoulder as I headed for the lift with her laughter in the background.

Just down the road I had a flat tyre. I phoned the NRMA and in a calm and authoritative voice gave them my exact location, a description of the problem but sadly gave them the registration number of a car I own several decades ago, instead of the one I was sitting in.

The NRMA guy arrived.

“Heard of Murphy’s Law?” I asked.

“Why yes,” he said, grinning.

“Well, I’m Murphy!”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BOOK LAUNCH



You are invited to attend the launch of Linda Brooks’ latest book on Monday, May 10 at 5.30 pm at Wallsend Library, Bunn St, Wallsend. The book is about living with Asperger’s Syndrome and has a feature chapter by Professor Tony Attwood, Dr John Miller and Dr Steele Fitchett.

I’m not broken
I’m just different


by author, Linda Brooks


is the story of a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome
diagnosed at fourteen, after a tumultuous childhood.
It is the story of a mother who wouldn’t give up.
It is the story of the beauty of music,
restoring lost places of the heart,
to a teenager too accustomed to failure.
It is about a red guitar.
It is a journey of discovery, audacity, humour and grace.
It is funny, gutsy, raw and real.
It’s about finding wings to fly.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Children's story for adults


http://www.lindaruthbrooks.com/


Once in every lifetime we should all see life through the eyes of a five year old girl, hear her voice and sense the world through the unique vulnerability of childhood.

Georgia hides under the bracken fern. Her mother hits her to make her good. The nice man down the road gives her lollies that make her sleepy. Sometimes, her brother Jackson hides her in the bottom of his wardrobe. Her best friend is Mittens the cat who listens to all her childish secrets.

On her first day at school someone steals her special pencil set. She will be in very big trouble and she is afraid. She runs away to the bracken fern that grows tall by the whispering creek where the bower bird struts with his prize of blue buttons and the magpie feeds her screeching baby. It's her safe place.

Georgia is too young to know that there are other safe places and that what is happening to her is wrong. When her teacher, Miss Nelson, finds her there she is more afraid, until she learns that it is okay to tell. She discovers that there are other safe places and people who will protect her.

Things can get better.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book launch


http://www.lindaruthbrooks.com
Linda’s new book takes us to places we have never been, to places of the heart, teaching us to have the courage to look at life through the eyes of others. Linda chronicles her life with her son from his birth, covering the early years, teen years to adulthood. It follows the roller coaster ride from the bizarre to the obscene, the poetic and the hilarious, the heartache and the joy. The story embraces the muddled, hilarious stumbling between two worlds, linked by love—worlds that seemed so desperately different at first view; hand in hand, mother and son. A boy obsessed with the unfathomable, a mother obsessed with understanding him. Linda has poignantly captured the struggle of living with a child who appears to see the world through broken glass. Asperger’s is like watching a child trying to play hopscotch when he can’t see the squares, and everyone else can. It is a book that informs about Asperger’s Syndrome in a uniquely accessible way, pulling no punches, but is buoyant with hope and spirit. Linda's book features a chapter by Professor Tony Attwood, generally considered the leading authority on Asperger's and Autism. The book will be launched by Dr Steele Fitchett.

I am very pleased to be involved with Linda’s book, ‘I’m not broken, I’m just different’. I think we both have a very important message and I certainly endorse Linda’s positive approach. I know it will change the lives of many families. Professor Tony Attwood

As a counsellor I have discovered a number of special pearls, a couple of which are found in Linda and Bronson’s journey. This is a timely book with a special message. Dr Steele Fitchett

A long awaited book. Linda and Bronson have a great relationship; it’s entertaining to watch them bounce off each other. I once remarked to Linda describing her motherhood, ‘You enjoy him and that is one of the finest assets of a mother that you offer, regardless of how he reacts’. Dr John Miller

Monday, February 22, 2010

Callan the Chameleon


http://www.adam.org.au/linda/

Callan the Chameleon lived in a tall lilly pilly tree with pink tipped leaves. The leaves of the lilly pilly tree grow very thick. Callan felt safe in the rustling tree that was his home.

Chameleons change colours when they are in different places. This protects them from other animals.

Callan worried a lot about being safe. He didn’t like to be seen at all. Everywhere he went he checked to see if he was blending in with the bush around him.

Callan wasn’t like other chameleons. His skin didn’t change colour when his surroundings changed.

At least that is what he thought.



The theme of the book is acceptance of our differences.  The main character, Callan the Chameleon, has tendencies that parallel with Asperger's Syndrome. 

The story deals with this in a subtle way and celebrates our unique personality traits and individual talents. 

The story revolves around Callan and his bush animal friends, Emily the Echidna, Kyle the Koala, Kimberley the Kookaburra, Wesley the Wombat, Felicity the Frilled Necked Lizard and other uniquely Australian animals.
 

Linda Brooks: I'm not broken

Linda Brooks: I'm not broken

http://www.adam.org.au/linda/

I'm not broken



‘I’m not broken—I’m just different!’

is the story of a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome
who was diagnosed at fourteen, after a tumultuous childhood.
It is the story of a mother who wouldn’t give up.
It is the story of the beauty of music,
restoring lost places of the heart,
to a teenager too accustomed to failure.
It is about a red guitar.
It is a journey of discovery, audacity, humour and grace.
It is funny, gutsy, raw and real.

I have written about living with my son who has Asperger’s Syndrome. I have chronicled our lives together from his birth, briefly covering the early years and the roller coaster ride from the bizarre to the obscene, the poetic and the hilarious. Watching my son was like watching a child try to play hopscotch when he couldn’t see the squares, and everyone else could. His confusion was palpable and heart wrenching. I didn’t realise his pain, until at fourteen, he wrote about music. My heart ached when he ended with, ‘I was never any good at anything until guitar.’

I avoided an overabundance of self pity and despair while touching on its depths. I wanted to give detailed behavioural observation that made understanding accessible because, like so many others, I found the traditional medical texts on Asperger’s difficult to sift through and apply to daily life. I also found that these text books were inadequate to share with others to gain understanding from them. Asperger’s is a community problem, not just a family problem. Any advance in treatment and acceptance must incorporate the wider community. Any book on Asperger’s needed to be more accessible. There is a strong thread of humour and warmth to lift the story.

I have recorded the behaviours and perceptions of Asperger’s and the fallout with an air of detachment. But I also recorded the stories as narrative, capturing the heart of living with a child who appears to see the world through broken glass, while viewing you, his parent, protector and teacher as defective because you can’t understand his world.

I have described the anguish and the fear that grips you from the soles of your feet to the tingling in your scalp that simply comes from being a parent, but seems magnified into a twilight world of insanity with a child with Asperger’s.

I talk about what I learned, as well as he, in the muddled, hilarious stumbling between two worlds; linked by love. Two worlds that seemed so desperately different at first view. Hand in hand, mother and son. A boy obsessed with the unfathomable and a mother obsessed with understanding. The secret to finding answers started with me finding the compassion to look at life through his eyes.


To accept, to understand, to celebrate

I wish someone had told me earlier that my son had Asperger’s Syndrome.

I wish someone had told me that he was locked into a world that he didn’t choose; a world that I didn’t cause.

I wish someone had told me that I didn’t need to rescue him or force him out of his narrow prison.

I wish someone had told me that all I had to do was join him in his world, sit there with him while he found the courage and acceptance that would help him find his own way into the world that judged him odd; different.

I wish someone had told me how easy it would be to celebrate him when I understood.

I undertook a one woman crusade with every parliamentarian remotely related to the problems of disability in the education system. I wrote copious letters from my spare room attempting to sound as though I had an army behind me (I wish!). I lobbied in his public high school where the obsession to make my son fit in ruled and if that didn’t work; punish. Their determination for uniformity was as great as his need to try, and when that didn’t work; escape (aka truant). I took the school to HREOC and then gave them all a list of suggestions—Kevin Rudd said he liked them in his letter to me, but who can tell with politicians!

What is it like to live with Asperger’s Syndrome? It is like watching a canoe leave behind the wake of an ocean liner. It is like trying to find Hansel and Gretel when they left no crumbs. It’s like trying to climb down from Mt Everest when you can’t remember ever being at the top. It is a wild roller coaster that looked like a quaint little merry-go-round with the pretty horses.

I hope you enjoy my story for all the above reasons. And for one other—the reason I wrote it—so that we may all look at each other through new eyes; then understand, accept and celebrate our differences.

Linda Brooks