Some thoughts

Teresa’s perspective on the OUPS

As David has already said, upon arrival my eye was immediately drawn to the cocktail menu, but that seems fair enough given that I had boarded the train at Penzance at 6.45 that same morning, arrived in Huntingdon at 2.30 p.m. and then embarked on a two-hour drive to Warwick. Never let it be said that I am not dedicated to our cause 🙂

The cause is to offer an alternative view to the one often expressed by academics. For example, one speaker at the conference spoke about separating autistic children out from the mainstream pupils. Perhaps at the furthest end of the spectrum this may be necessary, but ‘autistic’ covers a range from severely disabled to high-functioning Asperger’s – and in any case, surely the primary goal of care should be integration?

Integration. Good word. Integration, in our view, is not about merely coaching autistic individuals to function in the neurotypical world. It is also about educating and coaching the neurotypical world, opening its eyes to this very different way of thinking and processing, thereby enabling both sides of this currently gaping divide to develop a common language.

SPECTRUM WIVES AND PARTNERS

Finding a common language has been crucial for David and myself. For a long time I did not understand what was going on in his head. His reactions to the things I said and did made no sense to me. I was in despair. Learning about autism has opened the door just a crack for both of us. We know this process is not a quick fix, it is a lifelong effort.

So, after David performed onstage we mingled in the bar where I found myself in conversation with one woman after another, each of them willingly declaring their husband/partner to be on the autistic spectrum. We shared and drew comfort from our common experiences, both the troubles and the triumphs.

Two years ago, I felt unbelievably alone. I did not understand what was going wrong in my relationship with David. Nor did I know what to do about it. I felt alone but worst of all, I felt helpless.

I do not want anyone else to feel that sense of desolation, and neither does David. The bar at Warwick was full of shared experience and the more David and I talk about this subject, be it at conferences, seminars or via Facebook posts and blogs, the more we come to realise how widespread is the struggle.

It is time to find a new language. Time, as one of the people I spoke to in the bar at Warwick said, to ‘take off the blinkers’…event …

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