World Autism Awareness Day

When it's obvious to everyone, including Matt

Autism fact – One of the three in the triad of impairment at the root of autism is difficulty with social communication - For all people on the spectrum it is the ability to use their communication skills that is impaired.

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My son, who turned sixteen on 1 April, came up to me a couple of weeks back. He wasn’t upset, or angry, or sad, but he clearly had something to say.

Very often he will come and sit on my lap, even at sixteen and five ten, and he will talk what in my head I deem nonsense. It could be that he wants to share the fact the pylons over the A41 are having work down to them, or the bowling alley in town doesn’t have fans now. These things are important to him, and even though I have heard the stories a million times I listen to him each and every time he tells me. After a while a person can actually just listen to the highlights and nod in all the right places.

Recently, well in the last year or so, when I have him on my lap and he's chatting away, I try to insert questions that I want answers to. Simple things he would never think to share with us, such as, what did you have for lunch at school? Or, did the teacher like the homework you did last night. And sometimes I will get an answer that made sense.

He took great delight then, in instigating a conversation about the fact there were olives on the cold choice bar at his school and how he was so happy and he ate them all.

He will do that, talk to us about what he wants to. In others you would call that selfish. He isn’t interested in the fact I had pasta for lunch, or that my newest book is live. He isn’t interested in other people’s lives at all. He doesn’t have the social skill of give and take in conversations.

This is a big thing for autistic children, and adults. The *art* of conversation is not something Matt learns, although he has picked up a few things here and there, like saying thank you when people do something for him (sometimes he says thank you !).

Anyway, the point of this post, apart from emphasizing the issues with communication that are part of Autism, is to tell you what Matt said to me on one of those times he sat on my lap.

“Mum, my brain doesn’t work properly because I have autism.”

As parents we have never told him this. I mean, we’ve said he has autism, but never the brain part. Maybe he heard it somewhere. Maybe it was us talking to someone else about the effect of autism on the brain. Maybe he read it somewhere. All I know is that now, this statement is part of who he is from now on.
When he walks around town talking to himself and taking photos of ceiling fans other people knew that there was something *different* about Matt. But, he was oblivious to it all. He still seems oblivious which I am happy about.

I’m not saying that he's now all self aware and that makes it horrible for him. His world is narrow and he takes little notice of what others are doing still, but there are flashes of insight. Like his comment about the brain, and the autism (which he pronounces as two words - Awe-tizzem), and the time last week he touched my face and asked if I was okay which shows empathy.

I guess as a protective (and selfish) parent I don’t ever want him to fully understand how different he is, I don’t want him to be hurt by that. But I also want him to understand enough so that he's safe in this world. He's fiercely independent and stubborn and tall and strong and sweet and angry and bright and funny. I don’t want autism to be his label, but if that is the only thing that keeps him safe, what choice do we have, and should we be explaining the limit of his boundaries when a neuro-typical child can challenge their boundaries?

Sixteen is a funny old age.

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Blog participants

S A Meade (ebook from backlist)
Elin Gregory (giftcard)
Amber Kell ($25 Amazon giftcard)
Beany Sparks (An eReader with books donated by RJ Scott, Beany Sparks, Jesse Frankel, Ellen Cross and more)
Lexi Anders (Two books from backlist)
H K Carlton (Four ebooks)
Lillian Francis (A copy of Theory Unproven)
Bronwyn Heeley (An e-copy from backlist & a e-copy of Love Without Knowing It)
JL Merrow (An ebook of Caught)
Nancy Adams ($15 giftcard to + an ecopy of one of Nancy's books)
Clare London (Free download of book for anyone who shares thoughts/experiences about autism)
Eloreen Moon ($5 Gift Certificate to All Romance eBooks, Amazon, or B&N (winner's choice)
Jambrea Jo Jones (A copy from backlist)
Diane Adams (A signed paperback copy of Last First Kiss and an ebook of the same title)
Nic Starr ($10 ARe or Amazon gift card)
Evelise Archer (a copy from backlist)
Suki Fleet (a copy of backlist)
Catherine Lievens (2 copies of Ani, book 7 in Whitedell Pride Series)
Alexa Milne (copy of Sporting Chance)
Mia Hoddell (5 ebook copies of Summer Demons)
Sue Brown (Copy of In-Decision before release)
Megan Linden (ebook copy of Running Off the Edge)
Amanda C. Stone (The Adventures of Cole and Perry)
Cate Ashwood
AJ Henderson
Jess Buffett (4 books from backlist)
JC Wallace
Pants Off Reviews
Rainbow Gold Reviews
Kirsty Vizard

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Win $25 Amazon gift voucher


  1. I'm so glad to be a part of Autism an educator (as well as a writer) I am always happy when we can inform others and enlighten them with facts and not myths. Thank you R,J.

  2. This is very personal for me since my 19 year old brother has autism. I think this is amazing to help people better understand autism

  3. such an insight into how it's to live with a child who has autism and I'm sure you'll help him grown into an amazing person

  4. Rj I love hearing your stories (& challenges) on Autism. Charlotte, my grand-daughter is providing her share for my daughter Tegan.
    They are on holidays in Phuket at the moment so was amazed to see this post of Charlie tandem parasailing.

  5. Lovely post. I interact with many children who have autism and it can be a struggle have a conversation, but at the same time I've learned so much from each of them I don't really care that we go off on a tangent.

  6. Thank you for the yearly blog tour, informative posts/stories and for spreading awareness. I don't know anyone with autism and I'm not autistic but I also struggle with carrying on a conversation also. But from your description of Matt, I think he is doing pretty well carrying on with one =)

  7. I am a school based OT and work primarily with children with autism. I always enjoy partaking in Autism Awareness month, as well throughout the year with the schools that I am involved with.

  8. This is always such an informative event! All the best to you and Matt...

    --Trix, vitajex(at)Aol(Dot)com

  9. Thank you for inviting me to be part of your event and sharing your stories of Matt with us.

  10. Wonderful post, Autism Awareness events are fundamental in educating, offering information and advice to everyone. Thank you for sharing a little snippet of yours and Matt's life. All the best to you and your family

  11. Great post. My best friend's son has autism, and he is a really wonderful person, with a different and very special mind. We all love him, and all the people who give him a chance and get to know him love him as well. But sometime prejudice is so strong... that's what we have to change.

  12. Glad to be part of this event!

  13. Thanks for the great post. I don't know anyone with autism but it' helps me understand things better thanks to people who can share their personal experiences.

  14. Thank you for sharing this story and for this event!

  15. Thank you for sharing of yourself and for hosting this Awareness raising event.

  16. Thanks for such a great event. My godson is autistic and is doing great with specialized therapy and schooling and of course family support.

  17. Thank you very much for this important post. You are a great mum and your son is so special..
    Thank you for sharing this with all of us. Sending you both tight hugs.

  18. Thank you for this post. I, too, have the same conversations with my son, although Jake's interests are Batman/DC Comics. Sending you, Matt and your family lots of love xx

  19. Thank you for the Blog Hop but most of all thanks for sharing your and Matt life with us. Give him a big kiss from Rome.

  20. Thank you for sharing of yourself

  21. This post made me cry. I've worked with & socialised with people with autism & the way you describe the social and conversational points is exactly my experience. I think there are elements of autistic behaviour in most people to a greater & lesser extent. I hope Matt's comment about his brain is more about being 16 & at that awkward age and less about having autism. Your blog tour, this post & the way you are sO open about living w Matt are all so powerful & brilliant. Matt will grow to be an amazing different interesting adult just like others with and without autism. Liam Livings xxx

  22. Your Matt is such a wonderful young man and this blog hop is a great way to promote understanding of Autism.


  23. Thank you for sharing these little Matt stories. This time of year is always interesting and enjoyable. Thank you to all involved.

  24. Hugs - thank you for sharing this. I've not had much experience with people who have autism; I hope that reading your posts mean that when I do I will be more understanding and helpful (I'm a definite introvert and fairly shy so I have to work at people skills!).

  25. The love and patience for Matt is so beautiful in your post.

  26. Great post. Thank you for sharing.

  27. Beautiful post, RJ.
    <3 <3 <3 <3

  28. Thank you for sharing your insights about your son. I think these are the kinds of things that people should know about, so that they can understand autism better. This was a beautiful post.

  29. Thank you for sharing about your son. I do think all the work done for awareness is helping. My kids observed autism awareness at school yesterday - we never did things like that when I was a kid (back in ancient history ;-). And my son has a girl in his class who has autism and he and other kids in his class interact and play with her just as they do with everyone else. They are aware she is "different," but they seem to take that just as part of life. When I was young, I don't think this would have been true. I remember the "different" kids were put in separate classes and sometimes teased meanly. I am so glad to see progress being made.

  30. Thank you for sharing about you family.

  31. Great post, I think it is very important that people learn more about autism

  32. Thanks for sharing this. My son was ADHD, life wasn't all roses, but he's now 28 and doing well.

  33. RJ just checking do you have a preferred Autism charity you support?

  34. I'm gutted I missed this. I would love to have taken part. My son is fourteen and has high functioning autism. He is very self aware, unfortunately. I say unfortunately because it has caused him a lot of issues. Efan often comes to me and says things like 'when you look at this what do you see?' then proceeds to tell me how HE sees it - all the details, all at once, always. A normal brain will scan a pen,and every time it sees something that looks vaguely like a pen it will automatically say 'pen'. With Efan, and many autistic people, their brain scans the pen every single time and will only say 'pen' once it's satisfied on all points. That's why they sometimes seem 'slow' in fact they're not slow at all but processing information much faster than we are. It's also why they have meltdowns in situations where there is a lot of stimuli. Oops, rambling on about things that aren't important. What I meant to say was - thank you :)

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