Tag Archive: Living with David

David is my teenage son and autistic. When first diagnosed at the age of three, the doctor told me he would never develop mentally. However, over the years he has evolved within his own world. Here, I hope to tell of some of the strange but sometimes wonderful things about him and hopefully give a little insight and understanding into living with autism.

Living with David Jan 8 2013
Okay, I never meant to leave it this long, but I can now tell you what happened following my last post in January this year: What’s Been Happening – Part One.

Last year, having been failed miserably by the college trusted to instruct him in life skills, David was more or less confined within an assessment unit for psychiatric patients. He didn’t need to be there, the team medically discharged him after four weeks. The problems of his meltdowns have always been present, though and needed understanding with prevention and intervention methods, something management at the first college were unwilling to do, despite the excellent staff support.

He spent eight months at the assessment unit in Walsall. I’m not saying it was a bad place, don’t get me wrong, the staff were tremendous, but the unit was not where David needed to be. Somebody as lively and active needed stimulation, which the unit could not provide. He had his computer, but no internet. He also had his camera, MP3, and trains. However, what David did not have was his liberty. The highlight of a typical day for David, if I were not able to visit due to my 24-hour shifts, was a half hour stroll down the road to the local shop to purchase a milkshake. Therefore, although I tried to restrict my visits to alternate days so he would not become dependent on seeing me, this soon failed and I would end up going every day I was not at work.

I have to say, that was not good for our relationship with one another. He had nothing in his life and it was the same day after day. I could go as often as I wanted but the sad fact was, with David’s limited conversation, there was little to talk about.

He was bored and at least once a week I would bring him home so he could access the internet and make some of the wonderful audio/visual creations he is fond of. But the situation was still desperate, and it nearly ended dragging us both down. For him, the constant looking forward to my visit. For me – eight months of having my days off revolve around when I would see him. We’ve probably all been there; a relative in hospital and visiting hours dictating your life. This was the case for us lasting eight months.

A treat of a few days in Llandudno, a special firework display on his 21st birthday followed by a meal, these were all things which helped break the monotony.

In the meanwhile, staff at the assessment unit worked alongside social workers trying to find a new placement for David. I visited several, some of which may have worked, but I and those who supported David decided he needed the best available.

A specialist autism college was sourced, but funding was an issue with the decision taking months to arrive. Now before people decry the council – don’t. I totally understand. These places cost a heck of a lot and all avenues needed to be explored first. Finally, a couple of days before Christmas, David received the best possible present with the news he had a place at the specialist college.

On February 3 this year, David was taken to his new college by his key nurse, Sonia from the assessment unit. She, like many at the unit, helped David immensely. That day, I made my own way and he was already relaxing in the communal area he shares with three others. He looked happy, as you can see from this picture of him in his room.

Living with David - New College Bedroom. © Antony N Britt

It’s early days but so far, indications are that this has been the right move. David has loads of activities and is actually eating healthy for once in his life, losing weight as a result. Okay, he still tries it on with new staff on occasional trips to McDonald’s where he’ll insist he always has twenty nuggets, and not nine. I travel to see him once a month (it’s a fair distance) and he’s come home to stay a number of times. I have also just returned from taking him away for a week to his beloved Paignton where he saw his favourite steam trains, Lydham Manor and Hercules, every day.

I speak regularly and staff supported him to see his sister in a production of Singin’ in the Rain, and also to attend his cousin’s wedding. Not often does a day goes by without him messaging me on Facebook or posting his Christmas, Birthday and holiday wish lists to my wall. I even have a regular delivery of post with his latest (often laminated) lists.

It is anticipated he will be there a number of years before he is ready to return to the borough with the plan of moving into supported living. I’m not going to give the name of the college as I don’t want to infringe on their privacy. All I can say is they are doing good, and I am glad that one horrible chapter in David’s life is over.




David is my teenage son and autistic. When first diagnosed at the age of three, the doctor told me he would never develop mentally. However, over the years he has evolved within his own world. Here, I hope to tell of some of the strange but sometimes wonderful things about him and hopefully give a little insight and understanding into living with autism.

Living with David Jan 8 2013

It’s a long while since I did a progress report on David, but there have been reasons. These may take a number of posts to explain as I have deliberately kept quiet and although the hurdles are not over, I will cover one part of the story.

If you click on the autism link at the top of the page, you’ll be directed to previous posts. The last progress update was nearly a year ago where David was doing well at college in Wales. And it was true. Admitted, he still had meltdowns, but he has had those since he was fourteen and the college and everybody involved with David’s welfare were aware of them. However, this did not avert the terrible year which was to come.

The Christmas Wreath © Antony N Britt

This was taken three months before the troubles began. David with the beautiful Christmas wreath he made in Horticulture.

It’s April 29 2013 and I attended David’s review at Pengwern College. He delivered a powerpoint presentation and the future appeared good. The college were managing his behaviour with the staff doing a great job. He’d learned a lot in the eight months residing there. As I say, the meltdown incidents remained and probably always would. The nature of the condition, I’m afraid. To combat this, a change of medication was requested, which had been in practice for two months. In that time, David suffered the loss of his beloved nan, but was coping well. Therefore, on that Monday of the meeting, I returned to Walsall with nothing but positive thoughts concerning the next two and a bit years at college.

Four days later, the world crashed around us and nothing would be the same again.

I’d not long started work in the care field myself and had been given a ridiculous amount of shifts, but was okay as I had no commitments that week. Then the phone rang. It was the college informing me about David having a serious meltdown and attacking somebody. They wanted to send him home while they took stock and reassessed their strategies. I explained, I couldn’t have him at home, I was down to work over 80 hours in the week they wanted to farm him back.

With that in mind, the college contacted social services as they were adamant about removing him and a place at a respite home was found. This home was local to me, but the situation horrible with David having to stay at a place he knew, all the time wondering why he wasn’t at home instead.

It was a week of hell where I only saw him a few hours. When he returned to college a week later, they moved him to an isolated cottage on site while changing his timetable and routine, all things you should not do to somebody with autism.

Three weeks later, despite not having many negative reports, the college said they couldn’t cope and sent him home again. Our local services were involved who found a place at a psychiatric centre. The college stated they would not have him back until a proper assessment had been carried out. So, yet another change of routine and at the end of May, I turned up in a terrible atmosphere to collect David from the place he loved. I was told the college were by no means closing the door and would be happy to have him back in September. That was the last direct contact I had with them before they placed a withdrawal notice on him.

Don’t get me wrong, the staff who actually worked with David at Pengwern College were fantastic. He made many strides which are evident months after they kicked him out. The problem lay with the bureaucracy of those making the decisions. They knew David’s issues when they took him on. They even applied and received extra funding to combat initial difficulties. And yet, the very people who were supposed to be experts in the field, could not cope in doing the job I had done single handed for years. Happy to take the money, yet the first sign of trouble, bat it back to the parents.

I still feel bitter. They wrote him off, citing safeguarding and risk, yet they never took into account the alleged escalation of behaviour issues occurred when David was undertaking a change of medication while at a time when he had just lost his grandmother – a major factor in his life.

June 2, David entered the psychiatric assessment unit and was medically discharged four weeks later. However, he could not leave as a new placement needed to be found. Representatives from the college came down early in his stay for a meeting. It was said they would look to take him back in September. That changed over the weeks to January, then finally, September 2014. It was obvious they never had any intention and perhaps it’s for the best, considering their failure. Even so, I still had a hope he could return. David loved the place and the support staff were excellent. But in the end, if I’m honest, it was only sentimentality which ruled my head.

There is a message in this series of events. If you undertake something, you should see it through, not as in David’s case, dump him and expect the family to pick up the pieces as many have been guilty of doing so in his life.

In September, I took David on holiday to Llandudno and some of my photos of that time were subject to my humourous post, The Sunday Roast – A Midweek Break in Llandudno. I know why David chose that for a promised holiday when all the troubles were over (even though they weren’t), Llandudno is not far from the college. He wanted to visit all the places he never got to. Unfinished business.

On that last day, we met up with one of David’s mentors who typified going the extra mile by reuniting David with things he’d left behind. He and other members of staff who worked with David will not be forgotten. Unfortunately, for David, neither will Pengwern College. On the way home, I asked him where he wanted to visit as a last outing.

‘Rhuddlan Castle,’ he said.

I groaned, accepting the request. Rhuddlan Castle is half a mile from college. You have to drive by the college to get to it and you can then see the college from the castle. Finally, we had to pass the college again on the way home.

David watched his college on that journey, and from the viewpoint, taking photos for memory. As we passed that final time, tears flooded from me as his head craned, staring at the place where he’d spent happy months. It was as if he wanted to reach out and touch, and I’m in tears again writing this now as I relive that moment.

The hard fact was, David’s days at college in Wales were over, and new support needed to be found.

To be continued …

Living With David - View from Rhuddlan Castle

Taken from Rhuddlan Castle. The white building in the distance in the middle is the college. The reason David wanted to come here.



Back with a Bang.

Nov 3 - Fireworks

This is a sample of the fireworks I’ve bought specifically to annoy the neighbours.

Nov 3 - Fireworks to Annoy the Neighbours © Antony N Britt (988x1024)

Okay, that may be a lie. The fireworks are for David’s 21st Birthday. However, they will still annoy the neighbours. And that’s a shame because most of my neighbours are nice. In fact, the only one I would want to annoy is deaf and wouldn’t hear the bangs anyway.

So what have I been doing during my month away from Sunday Roasts?

What do you mean, you hadn’t noticed I was gone?

Yes, I took October off. It has been a trying year and I (a) needed to regroup, and (b) didn’t have much to write about. However, I did take a holiday.

Nov 3 - Aberystwyth © Antony N Britt (1024x279)

That’s Aberystwyth, as seen from the castle, if you can still call it a castle. Another lovely weekend break with family. Good company, and good food. What could go wrong?

Now then, remember my mushroom moan from a while back on a previous holiday, and the fact many places seem to discriminate against them? This time it was Wetherspoons in Aberystwyth. What it is, I hate fried tomato and beans and don’t want them on my plate. My breakfast already came with one flat mushroom, so I asked if I could swap the tomato and beans for more mushrooms. And this is what I got …

Nov 3 - Cold Breakfast at Wetherspoons Aberystwyth © Antony N Britt (1024x768)

Note to Wetherspoons. One extra mushroom does not represent a fair swap.

And the breakfast was cold.

And I would have complained had they the courtesy to ask if everything was all right with my meal.

Picky … me?

Ahh … Aberystwyth.

Nov 3 - Rickety Ramshackle Aberystwyth © Antony N Britt (1024x768)

Got to love a shop with the name, Rickety Ramshackle.

On turning 50 …

Yes, you heard right. I have passed the dreaded number. Many people say I don’t look it and want to know the secret. All I’m saying is, there’s much truth to vampire stories and drinking the blood of virgins. Still, it can’t last. I live in Walsall. How many virgins do you think we have in the town?

Now I tried to keep the birthday low key. That was the motto. Mind you, it was a lovely surprise to receive a cake which somebody special got up at six in the morning to make for me.

Nov 3 - Birthday Cake © Antony N Britt (1024x531)

However, it wasn’t as much a surprise as she had when I extinguished the candles and the dusting of icing blew up in her face like a volcanic ash cloud.


So … Low key! On my birthday, I thought going to a quiz with my family would manage to maintain that status. Unfortunately, the quiz was an event with the Aldridge Musical Comedy Society and I ended up having happy birthday sung to me by the entire company and sixty more of their friends.

I just don’t do discreet.

My birthday meal, proper was the next day, seeing as I was at the quiz. For an Indian, we usually go to the excellent Golden Moments in Walsall, but for a change, the family tried Five Rivers Restaurant in the town. Apparently, the chef cooked for the G8 conference years ago.

It was okay, but a touch overrated. Not only that, do you call these poppadoms?

Nov 3 - Smallest Popadoms Ever in an Indian Restaurant © Antony N Britt (1024x775)

Really? Well I don’t. They’re like giant Walkers Skips, and nothing more. And note … that’s a small plate.

The place is described as À la carte. Not too up on my French, but I now assume À la carte translates as meaning, small portions.

Nov 3 - Small Dessert in a Massive Dish at Five Rivers, Walsall © Antony N Britt (1024x639)

Yes, all very fancy, but why serve a dessert on a plate which was bigger than the one for my main course?

And would you like to see the main course?

Nov 3 - Plate with a hole in it. © Antony N Britt (1024x579)

What in the name of sanity? A stupid shaped dish with a hole in so when I poured the rice on, it fell through the gap and went all over the table.

But they cooked for President Clinton, I’m told. Yeah, and did he get served micro poppadoms and have to wait an hour between main course and dessert?

And a final note to Five Rivers. If you no longer serve a Bailey’s Bomb for dessert, take it off the bloody menu.

Golden Moments, I shall see you soon.

Football Crazy.

It is crazy, how the media go all gooey over certain footballers. Recently, every time I switch on Sky Sports, I hear pundits wetting themselves over how fantastic Luis Suarez is playing at the moment. Yes, Luis Suarez, the Liverpool striker. Or rather, Luis Suarez, the cheating racist thug who should have been kicked out of English football if Liverpool FC had any decency about them.

Nov 3 - Luis Suarez bites Branislav Ivanovic

Here we see Luis, having a mid-afternoon snack of Branislav Ivanovic’s arm, earlier in the year.

There is simply no dignity with some football clubs.

And finally, in the garden …

I have done my last lawn trim of the year, cut the hedge and buried a cat. But I never expected to find what I did, living in my shed.

Nov 3 - Frog in the Shed © Antony N Britt (1024x806)

Possibly can’t see it, but top left of the pool of water (yes, I have a pool in my shed) is a frog. The pool is there because despite paying some guy last year to re-felt the roof, he missed the corner as it was difficult to get to … and now it leaks, and foliage grows, and I get frogs in residence.

It could only happen to me. But I think I shall keep the frog. I’m calling it Nimon.



Well, a sort of break, anyway.

Sept 22 - Llandudno © Antony N Britt

I spent a few days last week taking David on a holiday to Llandudno. You all know David, don’t you? He’s my autistic son who I write about in Living with David posts. Well, I’d promised him a stay in a hotel and you know me, what could possibly happen?

The Great Orme Tramway.

Sept 22 - Great Orme Tramway © Antony N Britt

First thing David wanted to do was take me up the Great Orme Tramway. I believe it’s the only functioning one of its kind in the country and yes, it was a good experience, until time to go down. You see, there is a connection where you get off one tram and embark on the other which travels on the road. Not a problem, until I saw this history board in the exhibition.

Sept 22 - Great Orme Tragedy

What! Tragedy? You mean people have actually died on this? Nobody blooming told me that, and I still had half the journey to complete.

Sept 22 - Great Orme Tramway Hill © Antony N Britt


Thankfully, we reached the bottom in one piece, but some of my stomach contents remained at the top.

Holiday’s are meant to be fun.

Sept 22 - Caravans © Antony N Britt

Why, why would anybody do that?

Yes, I know what’s a good idea, tow a mini version of my own house around with me and do as much work as if I hadn’t left home. I mean, it’s so much better to return to after a day’s sightseeing than a nice comfy room like this with clean towels and my bed made each day.

Sep 22 - Room at Premier Inn © Antony N Britt

Never understood camping or pulling a caravan.

And a trip on the Welsh Highland Railway.

This was David’s request for day two. It’s a lovely railway which goes through Snowdonia and sounded excellent. Well, it did until I saw the train we were going on.

Sept 22 - Welsh Highland Railway © Antony N Britt

Still, there were some nice views.

Sept 22 - Rhyd Ddu Station Welsh Highland Railway

Yes, she did have a lovely backside, and those in the other train taking pictures obviously thought so too, but that’s not really what I meant.

Sept 22 - Snowdonia from Porthmadog © Antony N Britt

There, that was the kind of stunning view I was referring to. Phew! That was taken at Porthmadog. And the scenery elsewhere is the only good thing to be said about Porthmadog.

And some stranger views.

Sept 22 - Weird Ornament in Llandudno © Antony N Britt

Welcome? This has to be the most hideous and unwelcoming thing I have ever seen outside a hotel. Weird, or what?

The language barrier.

I know there is always the chance of communication problems in Wales, especially if the natives speak local, but only I could have a misunderstanding when both myself and proprietor of an eating establishment talk English.

It was a nice little cafe, but we only wanted a drink, despite being offered the full menu. Therefore, I gave my order. A simple tea for me, and a can of coke for David.

The waitress turns to David. ‘And what would you like?’

‘The coke’s for him,’ I reply.

She looks puzzled. ‘So he’s not having a drink?’

My turn to be bemused. ‘Yes, he wants a Coca Cola.’

She tries to work this out. ‘So, you want a tea, a cola, and a carrot cake?’

What? How the bloody hell can asking for a can of coke be construed as requesting carrot cake?’

Next time I’ll write it down.

And talking of food …

The breakfast at Brewer’s Fayre is described as all you can eat. As much as you like. And that seems to be the case … unless you ask for mushrooms.

Every day, I said, ‘Loads of mushrooms. Give me two, three portions.’ I even said on the last day, ‘If you can’t fit them on the plate, bring them in a separate bowl.

This is what I got each day.

Sept 22 - Lack of Mushrooms © Antony N Britt

Grrrr. Since when does seven mushrooms constitute all you can eat? Discrimination against mushroom lovers, that’s what I think.

Out shopping.

Went into Rhyl and bought six books for a tenner. Yeah, as if I need more books to read. I then gave David a choice. ‘What would you like to do?’

‘Go to Wilkinson.’

He’s easily pleased. Still, he directed me as he is more familiar with the town from his time at college. However, I was a bit dumfounded when I tried to get in.

Sept 22 - Wilkinson Rhyl © Antony N Britt

There is no door. What the hell is the point of a frontage with a store sign if you can’t bleeding well get in?

The answer is, you have to go a couple of hundred yards round the corner to a main entrance on the high street. This picture was the rear of the building. But why have it appear as though it is a front?

The Welsh try to confuse me at times.

And home … eventually.

Arrived back after a longer than anticipated journey where traffic kept slowing to 30mph. And we all know the reason, don’t we.

Sept 22 - Lorry Overtaking Another Lorry © David Britt

Yes, lorries taking two hours to overtake another lorry thus hogging the middle lane and restricting the amount of vehicles which can pass.

Arrgghhh! Come the revolution, they will be exiled to the near lane, along with those irritating caravans.



David is my teenage son and autistic. When first diagnosed at the age of three, the doctor told me he would never develop mentally. However, over the years he has evolved within his own world. Here, I hope to tell of some of the strange but sometimes wonderful things about him and hopefully give a little insight and understanding into living with autism.

No Sunday Roast column this week. A few people know it has been a difficult time of late, to say the least. One of my major concerns is David and his future. I’m not going to dwell on the problems as it’s not appropriate to speak about them at present. Rest assured, he’s well and getting the support he needs in order to progress in the coming months. Therefore, what I’d like to do is focus on the positive and talk about the incredible memory of someone on the autistic spectrum.

David enjoys his music. He loves his camera and videos. He will sit at the computer, strategically place his MP3 and record via the speakers, music off You Tube. At the same time, he will have numerous other browsers open. While the backing track is playing, he will switch between clips from TV shows and his own recordings. On top of that, he will commentate.

He was at mine the other day, taking a rare opportunity at the minute to access the internet. I didn’t see him for hours. However, he came downstairs at one point and spoke to me.

‘Dad, what’s this?’

He proceeded to hum a tune which I vaguely recognised, but not enough to know what it was. He repeated it several times and was quite consistent.

‘Okay, David, is this something I have in my collection?’


Didn’t tell me much, and he had no idea which artist it was. Therefore …

‘When did you hear me playing it, David?’

‘In car,’ he answered.

Ahh … we were getting somewhere. A clue. ‘When did you hear me play it in the car?’


I stopped. 2003? He was having a laugh.

‘David,’ I said, ‘how the hell do you expect me to remember 2003? I mean, where were we?’

‘Safari Park.’

Right. So basically, I had to recall what CD I had on in the car during a visit to West Midlands Safari Park, ten years ago.

I scanned through my collection of 700 CDs, looking at ones which I would have had for ten years or more. Narrow it down. However, I soon realised this was a waste of time as I’ve culled hundreds in recent years and as it wasn’t a tune I instantly knew, it stood a chance I no longer had it.

Half an hour searching and David repeating the tune. Nothing. I even tried him with the app on my phone which identifies songs. However, that only seems to work if you play the actual song.

In the end …

‘What else did we listen to that day?’

‘Duran Duran,’ David said.

Okay, it didn’t sound like any Duran Duran I knew. Maybe an album track?

I was subjected to another ten minutes of David’s rendition and had a thought.

‘David, sing me some other songs you heard that day?’

He did. Some were Duran Duran, others, I didn’t recognize. Then …

‘Wait, that’s Common People, by Pulp. Not Duran Duran. An hour there and an hour back to the Safari Park, it was unlikely we’d have had more than two albums on during the journey.


I dug into my CD collection. I hadn’t listened to Pulp for ages. I found Greatest Hits, stuck it on. Finally, track 11 – This is Hardcore.

‘That’s it!’ shouted David, excited.

Sorted. It was the piano piece from the song he’d been singing. Therefore, after that, and for the rest of the afternoon, I heard, This is Hardcore blasting from the computer, interspersed with his other recordings.

But I’m amazed. How the hell can he recall what songs were playing on a certain date? Another mystery of the autistic mind. But then, I don’t think there goes a day spent with David where he doesn’t amaze me in one way or another.



IMGP5685 (1024x768)  David listening to his music © Antony N Britt

David listening to his music.

Adjust the Tracking

In your own world,
People look at you
very strange.
What goes on inside that head
which appears confused to us?
Perhaps it is we, the unusual
and you, correct.
We can only gape in awe,
wondering how you cope.
You glance at us,
see madness,
frustrate at our disabilities.
What’s the matter with our world
that everything seems so weird?
There is nothing amiss.
You are a vinyl record
playing at the wrong speed.
Tracking needing adjustment
so we can understand a happy soul
content in his own universe.

© Antony N Britt

Autism Awareness Day 2 April 2012

David is my teenage son and autistic. When first diagnosed at the age of three, the doctor told me he would never develop mentally. However, over the years he has evolved within his own world. Here, I hope to tell of some of the strange but sometimes wonderful things about him and hopefully give a little insight and understanding into living with autism.

The title of this piece asks, Is There A Cure For Autism? Right, now that I have your attention, I shall explain.

I attended a talk in Shrewsbury about Aspergers Syndrome, last night. Delivered by Sara Heath and Eric Loveland Heath, it was excellent.

Yes, I do already know more than most about the subject due to David’s severe autism, plus his younger brother, Matthew, who has Aspergers. Still, it is always interesting to experience more, if only to see how little awareness there is in others concerning the subject.

Two talks, followed by questions and right towards the end, I heard the one I had been expecting all night.

“Can it be cured?”

Now I could tell from the tone of voice and general nature, there was no malice or distaste in the enquiry, just a lack of understanding. It’s quite common, especially concerning Aspergers. So very little is known. To make the point, I typed this entry using a Word Document and even Spellchecker doesn’t recognise the word, Aspergers.

So is there a cure for autism? Simple answer – No. You see, to have a cure for something, there has to be an illness in the first place. Autism isn’t an illness, it is a condition. Who the person with it, is. So we get that technicality out the way but it’s not so straightforward. You see, there is always going to be a lobby which is obsessed with trying to find a cure for a lifestyle needing none. This is more prevalent in the States where parents with autistic children are bombarded with one bullshit treatment after another and these being nothing more than quack, money-making schemes such as homeopathy and the ilk.

Sure, you can have treatment to adapt and live with the condition but if there was an actual cure, would I want it for my children? Again – No.

David is 20. He has his faults and shortfalls, but exists in David’s World. He is his own person. What is it the healers are suggesting, some operation to remove the autism and change the person into what they consider to be normal? What that would do to both David and Matthew is kill the person they are. Remove every trace of what has built up over the years and replace it with a different personality. An alien.

And why the hell would anybody want to do that?



Living with David, and Matthew © Antony N Britt

David and Matthew, both quite happy being the people they are, thank you very much.

David is my teenage son and autistic. When first diagnosed at the age of three, the doctor told me he would never develop mentally. However, over the years he has evolved within his own world. Here, I hope to tell of some of the strange but sometimes wonderful things about him and hopefully give a little insight and understanding into living with autism.

It’s been quite a while since I did one of my autism posts. Probably too long. However, one of the reasons is that since last September, David has been at college in Wales.

He’s doing good. Learning all sorts of life skills such as looking after farm animals and gardens, plus crafts, computers and horticulture. In fact, it is the latter which he says is his favourite subject. He phones me two or three times a week, mainly to ask for stuff but whenever I enquire about his classes and which one he likes the most, he says horticulture.

At Christmas, he came home with a box full of pottery and a festive wreath he made in horticulture. I’ll save the ceramics for another post as they deserve one on their own. However, his wreath stayed on the front door all throughout Christmas and to be honest, I still have it. I can’t bear to throw it away. And why should I? The grasses may have dried but the holly, pine cones, etc. They’re all still okay. Maybe I’ll stick it on the garden fence.

The Christmas Wreath © Antony N Britt

There he is with it. This was taken when he came home just before Christmas. It had a note attached, one from his tutor. It said, David made this in horticulture. It is all his own work and he is very proud of it. And so he should be.

I will say, it has been a bit of a change for me after ten years of being carer to an autistic teenager on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean to say I get a quiet life now. David has Facebook and boy, does he like to talk. At least once a day, my phone will beep a message and I know it’ll be him. There will be one word. A different one each time but I know what I have to do. Word association. He says something and I have to complete the sentence. He also sends messages asking for requests. Rewards. These, though, are based on behaviour.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, David has temper meltdowns. While not acceptable when they happen, he cannot help most of them. To combat and try to avert these, I operate the reward scheme. If he has the carrot dangled of getting something nice, it can act as an incentive to control his moods. I suppose it is a form of bribery but the reward is also a signpost in his mind for when for red mist rises. That he will not get his promised reward if he slips up.

But back to his messages. As well as games and requests for rewards, I get bombarded with Birthday and Christmas lists. Thank heavens there are neither of those now until November. However, before Christmas, I was getting the same list about three times a day in messages. When I replied to his private message, he’d then cut and paste my comment to his wall, the same he did when his mum promised to take him out for the day. He’s not stupid. On his wall, the evidence is there for all to see. So no backtracking allowed on any promises.

Anyway, these Christmas lists sent to me coincided with a bad spell of temper issues and I had spoken to him and the college about it. He messaged me again with his Christmas list. I replied, stating he would get nothing if he was bad. Thirty seconds later, I got a phone call.


‘Yes,’ I answered.

‘Christmas presents.’

I explained again about his anger issues and that he can’t keep having these meltdowns. He was promised at one point, fireworks and lanterns at New Year, but as I’d said these were also based on behaviour, he’d blown them. Still, there was the Christmas list at stake and apparently, it worked. He had a good final week and we had a great Christmas, too. I found out long ago that even though he can be awkward at times, he does respond the odd carrot or two.

I’m speaking to him at the minute, actually. On Facebook. I just had to log in under his name and delete some pictures. You see he keeps posting ones of other students, which is against the rules. After sorting the pictures, I’ve then had a message conversation with him, explaining what I have done and if he keeps doing it, he won’t get his latest reward.

Ah. Got to go. I hear the telephone ringing. Now I wonder who that could be?

On one of the days out since going to Wales.

On one of the days out since going to Wales.



David is my teenage son and autistic. When first diagnosed at the age of three, the doctor told me he would never develop mentally. However, over the years, David has evolved within his own world. Here I hope to tell of some of the strange but sometimes wonderful things about him and hopefully give a little insight and understanding into living with autism.

Friday July 6 2012, sixteen years after he first started nursery, David came home from school for the last time.

It has been a long journey over the years. There have been triumphs and there have been tears. None more so than his final week.

When he first started at Old Hall School in 1996, David was, as I state in my introduction, given no chance by the doctors who diagnosed his autism. He had no IQ, he would be unlikely to improve and he would be like a two-year-old most of his life. That’s what they proclaimed.

David back in 1997 – Aged 6.

Okay, so tell me how many two-year-old children can operate a computer like David can now? He posts videos on Facebook, takes photographs, edits and upload them? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg concerning his skills.

Okay, his learning on subjects is that of a younger child but he can dress himself, bath/shower and with much prompting, tidy up. He even got the vacuum out the other day without being asked. Then told me he’d done it. Then asked for money as a reward, to spend when he goes into respite.

At 14, David changed schools as Old Hall only took pupils up to that age. He began five years at Mary Eliiot School in Walsall. It is here that so much hard work has been done by excellent staff to bring David though the final hurdle of traumatic teenage years and into adulthood. Today, he has life skills, doing things I would never have believed possible back in 1996. Well, not believed had I taken any notice of the doctors.

Therefore, I want to say thanks. First to Old Hall, then especially to his teachers, class assistants and all the rest at Mary Elliot. All of these people are not simply staff, they are his friends. He is going to miss them the same as I’ll miss picking him up, hearing the stories of the day. I also know, they will miss him too.

In his last week, the school held a prom. It wasn’t known until very late if David would be able to cope with the occasion but thankfully, he made it and for once, didn’t look scruffy.

It’s gong to be an odd time ahead. Everything David has known for many years is changing. I’m not sure it’s hit him yet. There are so many constant factors in his life, routine the autistic person relies on. They are no longer there. I am sure he will conquer whatever hurdles lie in front of him, though. He has learned to do this with the support of those at school, and maybe a little from me, as well.

David on his Prom day with Mary Elliot staff: Wanda, Louise and Jody.

Good luck, David. You have achieved so much. And thank you to everybody who has stuck by him, never given up on him, and not cast him aside. You know who you are.



Non-Fiction Competition Win

Last Thursday, I had the great honour to be named winner of the Walsall Writers’ Circle 2012 Non-Fiction Competition. The fact that all of the entries read out at the meeting were of a hugely impressive standard, makes this award all the more pleasing. Here I am with judges, John Lester and Stuart Williams, being presented with trophy which I get to keep for a year until the 2013 competition.

Walsall Writers’ Circle is an honest, friendly group and I recommend anybody in the locality with an interest in writing, to give it a go. My winning piece – The Invisible Nation, an article on autism, can be found in the Autumn 2012 edition of Blackcountryman Magazine and still on the Walsall Writers’ Circle website, if you scroll down the page.



%d bloggers like this: