There are no typical autistic people, despite the savant stereotypes. My son is just himself: he’s me, with a coating of autism
I am so looking forward to my trip with my son next week. First up is Cern, in Switzerland, where my son gets an hour on the Large Hadron Collider all to himself. On Tuesday, it’s off to the National Portrait Gallery in London, where an exhibition of his crayon selfies is on show (royal attendance is rumoured). Wednesday he’s being filmed for the BBC completing a Rubik’s Cube with one hand.
Thursday, he’s on at the National Theatre, where he’ll recite the works of Shakespeare from memory. Friday, we’re off to Vegas to win a fortune at blackjack. I’ve bought the matching suits and sunglasses and, get this, he gets to fly the plane home himself.
Worst-case scenario has always been my default setting – but complications during pregnancy and an ill mother and partner meant I had to get my anxiety under control
It is March and I am Googling “meningitis” again. My partner has caught our son’s chicken pox and her symptoms are frightening me. Vice-like headache. Aversion to light. Brain fog. Also, I am pregnant and my habit of catastrophising has sprouted horns, and, pumped up on hormones, my heart is working twice as hard as usual. Nausea is now approaching something more … cataclysmic. My phone starts autocorrecting “morning” to “meningitis”. I become convinced that my partner has developed brain swelling, a rare complication of chicken pox. From here, it is a short step to picturing her dying and me giving birth alone, letting the worst case scenario in like an old friend.
The thing is, this time I am right. Sort of. She does have meningitis. The GP takes one look at her and sends her up to the infectious diseases ward in a taxi. I feel a tiny bit triumphant in the way only catastrophisers can. See? I told you. The worst has happened! But I’m also wrong: a tiny wad of catastrophe may have been fired at us, but my partner does not die and I do not give birth alone. She recovers. The baby is born. We are lucky again.