My beautiful daughter is Autistic. This means she has difficulty with many aspects of day to day life, and in particular communication. Autistic people often find the way the rest of us live our lives to be nothing short of ridiculous. We tell lies for instance. We say one thing, but really mean another. We cannot be trusted. It is hard for the rest of us to imagine what it is like to see the world through the eyes of Autism. We are so used to our subtle deceit, we accept it as normal. We teach out children how to do it, and scold them if they speak their truth. We give this subtle deceit many names, but mostly we call it politeness.
Imagine for a moment being parachuted into rural China. Nobody speaks a language you can understand. Nobody makes sense with what they say or do, the habits and culture is at odds with what we recognise. The world is an alien one, but once finding ourselves there, the best of it has to be made or we will suffer. And so it is for Autistic people in our society.
Autism covers a huge spectrum. Some people are completely shut down, and others are high functioning and are capable of gaining University degrees. My daughter is somewhere in the middle, and some days she is nearer one end than the other – you can never tell.
Today she has been amazing! Today she jumped out of a plane at 15,000ft and skydived… falling through the air at 120mph at a temperature of minus 15c. A pretty awesome achievement in anyone’s book! She didn’t land in rural China fortunately, just nice and softly in a quiet field in East Devon. The sun was shining, and although she was frozen right through, she was happy.
My daughter took this on to raise money for The National Autistic Society, but most of all she did it to show the world that being Autistic doesn’t mean you can’t do things. Because she is different, and knows she is, it is important to her that people see her for the valuable person she is. I am so proud of her – she is tougher, braver and kinder than anyone I know.