My darling, L…. G…. I…. S….
We saddled you with the names of two dead, great men. My eccentric, bohemian dad, G…. H…. R…. B…. (with your pink trousers, wild hair, and untipped Gaulloise cigarettes – could you not have foreseen the lung cancer). And your dad’s brother, I…. S…. (cigar and fry-up for breakfast, laughing, no-nonsense Northern car salesman, who could sell ice to Eskimos) who died when you were blissful in the amniotic fluid.
L…. G…. Yesterday the paediatrician and psychologist formally diagnosed you as being on the autistic spectrum (high-functioning, but more severe than we’d thought). Further referrals to CFCS (possible ADHD/ADD), OT (dyspraxia, and sensory processing profiling), and CAMHS (mental health problems). The otherwise-friendly paediatrician administered the diagnosis, and lists of abbreviations, with the severity of a terminal illness. The psychologist said you’d need a lifetime of help to be normal (such a mediocre ambition). Strangers condemned you to a lifetime of furrowed-browed professionals telling you what you are, and how to change that.
There, in that humourless office, we celebrated you being on the Awesome Spectrum, with chocolates (and, later, we raised a beer [or juice] to you). You are officially in the Awesome Clan (we need our own tartan). The professionals looked on, horrified, as we cheered, saying how proud we are of you.
My boy, with your tenderness and humour. Your freckled birds-egg nose, and your sweet and warm milk-and-biscuits smell. You are not letters and labels. You are not broken, ‘disordered’, a ‘condition’, or ‘less than’. You do not need to learn to be someone else. You are bright, brilliant, beautiful. My heart aches with the severity of love. I know I could hurt people who hurt you. Our love for you is all-consuming, infinite, and we will fight every day for you.
You are my ‘beloved freak’, which I sing on my guitar. You will rise like the bloody-minded leviathan you are. You will continue to question and defy pointless rules and lazy assumptions. You, “Don’t like blonde psychologists, with too much eye make-up, asking me intrusive questions.” Oh yes, my darling, Welcome to healthcare – where your mind and body are no longer yours.
You are the one who approaches the severely autistic child in the waiting room, showing him toys, putting them in his hands when he can’t do it himself. Talking gently, standing beside him, smiling at him. You are the one who laughs (when first learning about racism) and says “But that’s stupid”.
Yes, we will now ‘access services’ and maybe get funding. You will get help, to learn what others find intuitive. And that’s good. But, in the fog of appointments and assessments, never forget that you are pure and perfect.
Mum and Dad