The other day my wife told me that I’m a really good writer. Apparently she wasn’t joking nor was she buttering me up to cut the grass. It was a genuine compliment (to which I’m humbled) that also served as another attempt to motivate me to write a book on what it’s like to raise an autistic child.
Her and I have had this conversation before and I’m not so sure I want to put in the time to write a book. Blogging 500 words at a time is much different than putting together, say, a 150-page, 30,000 word work of non-fiction. There’s research involved, fact-checking, what I would imagine being a pain-in-the-ass editing process and the costs involved to actually publish the thing.
Still. It’s an intriguing idea.
On the plus side, she’s absolutely right: there’s a story to be told and one that I’m sure a lot of people would want to read. Raising a child on the Autism Spectrum is challenging. There are highs and lows, achievements and regression, feelings of pride and times of guilt.
Additionally, a story like this can really only be told in the past tense as the future, really, is just too impossible to foresee. I have high expectations for my son, but how high is realistic? And personally, I’m not so sure I’ve come to grips with the difference yet myself.
It would also be one-sided because as of now, well, my son is only 5-years old. After all, to unlock his mind and to hear his words would be the REAL story. So where is the line drawn between being a project like this being all about me as opposed to my son?
It also think many of my experiences would be highly interpretive to other parents with autistic children.
It’s often said that when you see one autistic child, you’ve seen one autistic child. The meaning being that no two children on the spectrum are alike. They may share similar qualities but the degree in which they do, the order of developmental milestones, or the tales of their journeys are rarely the same. Their own frustrations range as do those of the parents.
Would it be a guide-book for parents who have just learned their child is autistic? A simple sharing of experiences with the hope that others could relate, or perhaps learn from? A combination?Would a book about my son be a source of frustration for others or would it give reason for hope? It’s a topic in which I certainly know a lot about, but is it one that I can share in a truly effective, or even inspirational, way?
A lot of questions would have to be answered; a lot of planning be done. Otherwise it would be a wasted endeavor and everything that kid has taught me about about life – and perseverance – would be worthless. I could never do that to young Matt.
What would a book on autism look like to you? What lessons would you want to know? What questions answered?
(And on a side note: In addition to rolling her eyes about the insertion of the Jenny McCarthy picture, I’ll bet my wife is smiling right now. Not because I said anything humorous, but rather because she now knows she may have planted the seed in my mind. I still might be leaning against the idea, but perhaps not as hard as I did before.)