I’ve always been an open book when it comes to C, and I generally share his diagnosis with just about anyone. C himself doesn’t know, although he’s seen the A-word on books I have sitting around the house, heard me say it to people, and probably actually does know it means something for him. Frankly, I’m surprised he hasn’t asked me what autism is, given his curiosity about every other word in the English language. Yet we haven’t started the discussion with him because we don’t feel he’s ready to hear how different he is when all he’s interested in at the moment is being the same as everyone else.
As C and his peers are all becoming more aware of all things, I now find myself closing up in order to protect him. A reporter is coming to see him at school in the morning to talk about a charity project C is working on, and I had to call the reporter back after our initial conversation to tell him to please not use the A-word in his article. Despite C’s autism being the subject of several newspaper articles a couple of years ago and C’s loving that his picture was on the front page, now his classmates can actually read and I’m quite sure they’ll read this article. The last thing I want them to do is have a name for him that is not his own.