I want to shout it from the rooftops. MY SON HAS AUTISM. In fact I do everything but shout it from the rooftops. I write about it, I talk about it, I share stories about it on social media and still there are those who think I shouldn’t talk about it at all.
It’s not my news to share.
It’s something I should hide.
He will be embarrassed I’ve told everyone.
Autism is something that needs to be hidden.
At my dad’s recent 80th birthday party my uncle came up to me and waving his finger in my face he said, “Stop telling everyone about Giovanni!”
"No, I won't stop," I said, more defiantly than I felt. He's a bit scary.
"When he goes to get a job they will know, and he won't get a job," my uncle continued.
At this I rolled my eyes and walked away. It wasn't the time or the place to explain why I want to speak openly about Giovanni. I am happy with my decision to be so open about it, except from time-to-time when little seeds of doubt start to form.
There are so many books and movies I watched before my son Giovanni was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I'd watch them and read them and think, "How sad, it must be hard," and now people think that about me. Yes it is sad, yes it is hard, but it just is.
Just because I cry about it sometimes and struggle with it often, doesn't mean I'm ashamed about it or him. I love Giovanni just the way he is, his beautiful autistic self, but he's damn hard work.
Ever had to remove nits from an autistic child's head? Not good.
One of the books I read before Giovanni's diagnosis was The Boy Who Fell To Earth by the wonderful Kathy Lette and she has just finished writing a sequel. It's about an autistic boy and when it was released everyone immediately speculated that Kathy Lette's son Julian was autistic.
Lette spoke with Mia Freedman on the Mamamia podcast No Filter about that time. A journalist asked her directly and she didn't want to lie. Why should she?
So she spoke to her autistic son Julian about it.
Author Kathy Lette spoke with Mia Freedman on Mamamia podcast No Filter about her decision to go public with her son's autism diagnosis.
When my son was diagnosed he was seven and I told him straight away that he had autism. We talk about it openly in my house. It's not a secret. It's just Giovanni. My close friends and family talk to me about it. However in slightly wider friendship and family circles it's still treated like a shameful secret.
I wish they'd ask about him more. They ask about Philip and how he's feeling about high school. They ask about Caterina and her cute dimples. However Giovanni - who at the time is either glued to my hip or sitting in the corner playing on his tablet - is treated like a shameful secret.