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Here's to them

by Russell Brown

When Fiona and I became parents 24 years ago, we had no way of knowing that our two sons' autism would become the central fact of our lives.

It's been hard at times. Really hard. You're parents for a lot longer in our position. It grieves me when I see parents still facing some of the same bullshit we did, the more so given that most of them don't even have access to the same level of support that we did 20 years ago. I'm constantly mindful of the privilege – the ability to argue on our own behalf – that won us the support we got. I'm deeply grateful for the closeness of our family life.

On World Autism Day, I'd like to thank all the ASD adults from whom I've been able to glean insights over the years – I cannot over-emphasise how important that has been. Thanks to other parents like Hilary Stace, who pointed us in the right direction at vital times. Thanks to Matthew Dentith, Ben Wilson, James Burnett, Ashley Hinton and Karl von Randow, who saw what the system couldn't in our younger boy, Leo, and helped him harness his fierce intelligence. Thanks to the people at Rialto and the Bridgeway, who have provided Jimmy not just with work, but work that makes use of his creative expressiveness and his passion for film.

And thanks most of all to Jimmy and Leo, who have taught me things about difference and human nature that I could not have learned from anyone else. I'm a better journalist and a better human for that understanding.

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