Autism is a socially debilitating condition. It's hardly the most fun thing about, and yet, recently, it seems like everyone wants to have it. I can kind of understand - it's always been kicking around in the Bowlface family household. Not that any of us officially have it, but we're occasionally so close to the mark it became a kind of funny joke. My brother would send me texts explaining himself with the sentence, 'I have autism'. Mummy Bowlface insists that at least three children a year in her class have it. I've even given family members books about it on festive occasions. Yes, we do know how to party.
However, autism broke out of the Bowlface Shire residence and into the mainstream last week when Channel 4's 'Embarrassing Illnesses' did a special feature on it. Ironically, really, as, sure, autism could be a tad embarrassing, but the sufferers probably don't care because, well, they're autistic. For such an incredibly high-cringe factor programme, it would appear plenty of people watched it because at the weekend I had about five conversations with people about autism. Furthermore, two of these people had taken the autism test and could run around excusing their rudeness much like those brotherly texts of yore: 'I have autism'.
Then came the literature. At the library at the weekend I was checking out books next to a little old lady who was checking out the same book on autism I gave to a family member three Christmases ago. THEN the book I received in the post, Speaking With The Angel, a collection of short stories published for charity purposes and edited by famous Father-of-an-autistic-child, Nick Hornby, had a ten page introduction all about it. Autism was coming through my letter box in a jiffy bag.
I took them all as signs and did the test. I got 16. Much to my amazement, this makes me .4 less autistic than the majority of the population. Who would of thought? Now there's not even a medical reason for my bitter cynicism. Maybe 'Embarrassing Illnesses' will expose all tomorrow night.