My boy has been to the Artic, he’s spoken at the House of Lords (amongst many other venues) but the person you see in public is most definitely not the same person that we live with at home. Luke has been trained to behave as well as possible outside the four walls of our house so it’s at home where we get the full flavour of him and believe me, he is some character and more to live with. His odd habits, his swearing, his tics, strange eating habits, temper, etc. mean that you have to dampen down your own preconceived ideas of normality and embrace a new reality which changes with the day – as his dad once said to me in total frustration ‘you can take a horse to water but you can’t make it beeping drink’. Having said that, I do consider it a privilege to live with someone who is so unusual, so fascinating and so uniquely different. There is never a dull moment!
Luke is a fantastic mimic and can talk all day in any accent whilst at the same time adopting the character of that accent which, I have realised relatively recently, is a very smart way of getting away with bad behaviour. When he is talking in a Scottish accent, he mimics Billy Connolly so that means he can swear with impunity, when being a Russian he can get away with misogynistic remarks etc.etc. As a little boy, Luke would dress up to literally become a character that he had watched on TV – if he became someone else then it gave him time out from being Luke, that boy who was always in trouble just for being himself.
Having been expelled from mainstream school aged fifteen years for his autistic behaviour, my boy has had to fight very hard to reassert his self-esteem and to believe that he is not bad or even mad; he’s just the alternative version.
Last night Luke invited me to sit down and watch a film with him – an honour not to be missed! I adore his company, he might be LOUDER and LARGER than life but if he invites you into his space, it’s because he really wants your company. He doesn’t do ‘polite’ with his inner circle of family and friends, what you see is what you get and so you know that what you get is a total reflection of how he is feeling. Consequently, an invite to spend precious time with him equals two things 1. He wants you around and 2. He’s in a good mood!! The co-incidence of these two facts aligning is a rarity akin to a solar eclipse so believe me when I say that it’s an invite not to be sniffed at. And this invite is despite the fact that I know he loves violent and very male orientated films, which I loathe.
However, to my immense shock, Luke had downloaded The Crown, he still has so many surprises up his sleeves and never fails to impress upon me the fact that I don’t yet know the depth and breadth of his character. (As I say often enough, the only predictable thing about Luke is his unpredictability.) He told me that he has watched every episode and instantly knew that it was something I would love to watch so he was prepared to re-watch it with me, for my enjoyment. That’s how to make your mum feel like a princess in one easy lesson.
We watched three episodes back to back and I am hooked, I loved the whole experience of watching it and especially of being given a guided tour of history by my boy –he kept pausing the recording to embellish it with additional facts he has gleaned from his own studies. I had NO idea he knows so much about the subject and when I said so, he told me that he has discovered recently that he loves history and in particular, the Second World War, which he now considers himself something of an expert on, despite missing out on most of his GCSE education! He added that he thinks if someone had captured his imagination at school he would have been an A student in the subject but it was so downright boring that he’d switched off his brain and been sent out of class instead for fidgeting around and not paying attention. I always knew that he was smart but instead of fitting in at school, he fitted out and so it was obviously much easier to get rid of him altogether than to find ways of engaging with him?
Amazingly, Luke is neither bitter nor sad about the way things have turned out. He is very aware of his ‘differences’ and is proud to embrace them as part of the whole that makes him who he is.