We are excited to announce that the author David Mitchell is going to present our BBC Radio 4 appeal! Save the date of Sunday the 13th of March to listen out for it. Tune in to BBC Radio 4 at 07:55 and 21:26 and repeated on Thursday 17th March at 15:27. FM 92.4 – 94.6, LW 198 and online at bbc.co.uk/radio4/appealSave the date of Sunday the 13th of March to listen out for it. Tune in to BBC Radio 4 at 07:55 and 21:26 and repeated on Thursday 17th March at 15:27. FM 92.4 – 94.6, LW 198 and online at bbc.co.uk/radio4/appeal
David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker prize for fiction, Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine in 2007.
David has a son with autism and shared some of his positive, and more challenging, experiences with us.
"There are several major challenges in raising a child with autism, and I find it hard to list them in order of magnitude. Some experiences probably aren’t going to be on the life-menu for my son, and it’s hard not to be resentful about that. You get there eventually, however. Another biggie is the non-verbal nature of our son's autism. If he has a headache, or toothache, or is bored of being stuck indoors and wants to go for a ramble on the sand-dunes, he can’t (yet) tell us, so we’re constantly having to guess, and be attentive for signs which we often miss or are forget to watch out for until it’s too late. It’s like having to be Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock while in fact being stuck as Martin Freeman’s Watson. (I’d love to just be able to ask my son how his day at school was, but it just doesn’t work like that.)
The most positive experience about having a child with autism is – as positives often are – the flip-side of a negative. Many kids with autism experience and express emotion in their pure, raw, ‘unedited’ form. This can manifest itself as roaring meltdowns of despair by the cheese counter at the supermarket (with dozens of people looking on, thinking – or, helpfully, even remarking – ‘What an obnoxious brat and what an utterly shite father!’).
However, the very same expressiveness can also manifest itself as long moments of raw joy that seize our son without warning, when he just radiates an intensity of happiness that us canny, well-adjusted, streetwise, cynical neuro-typicals who know what’s what only experience a few times per lifetime, if we’re lucky. I get to bask in that glow several times a day sometimes.
Another big positive are those occasions when our son proves my assumptions about what he can and can’t do, or does or doesn’t know, to be woefully under-informed. He’ll zoom through the X-Box menu to a desired Just Dance routine, or recite a scene learned by rote from Peppa Pig in Danish (he’s only kind of non-verbal, it’s complicated), or work out that I’m still hungry from my conversation with my wife and transfer a slice of pizza from his plate to my plate. (And autism is all about being a kind of Cyberman and not feeling or caring, right? Think again!) When my son outwits my assumptions like this, I swear I’m the proudest dad on Earth."
We are looking forward to sharing our appeal with you in March!