I was talking to a colleague about this blog and when I said what it was called, after explaining it’s premise, he struck upon a rather beautiful assumption.
He thought that ‘Life Without Grey’ actually referred to a life full of colour, without boredom, full of excitement.
I think that there is an element of truth in that. Seeing the excitement on L’s face when I simply say ‘yes’ to any kind of simple request actually lights up the room and is a thing of beauty. I don’t think that this is any different to any other child being told that he can do something, or have something he wants – kids love parents saying ‘yes’ to them and I would strongly encourage any parent to adopt Danny Wallace’s example from time to time (for the uninitiated, I refer to the book Yes Man, later a Jim Carrey film, wherein the story goes that a boring chap decides to say yes to any question he is asked and leads a rather interesting, exciting, scary and certainly different kind of life to that he had previously experienced).
Saying yes to L seems to have a more powerful effect though because what happens when you say ‘no’ is so different to how H reacts. One of the strongest ‘symptoms’ of L’s autism seems to be his inability to gauge his responses and his reactions according to any given situation. Instead, his reactions are often extreme and certainly involve throwing himself about and shouting. He often screws up his face and growls at me, an improvement on previous behaviour where he would scratch or hit, but still extreme. I don’t know what has caused this improvement, whether it is the fact that I no longer match his reaction, instead I (try) and stay calm, perhaps even calmer than I originally was, wait a moment, take a deep breath and then try and give him a hug or talk him down, or sometimes just letting him be or distracting him works as well, but not every time.
It is not what one might call a Black Dog in the traditional Churchillian (or Nick Drake) sense, that of depression, but it certainly to me seems animalistic, scary almost and certainly beyond L’s control. I am scared of dogs having been bitten by a rather vicious one on my paper round some 16 years ago (I still bear the scar on my knee). It didn’t like my bike. I still completed my round you will be glad to know but my sock had to go in the bin (according to my mother, blood doesn’t come out in the wash – this was pre-Ace Bleach days you understand). Anyway, I digress, L’s reactions can be quite scary because they are so surprising, so I hope you don’t mind me exercising a little poetic licence and calling this a ‘Black Dog’ reaction.
So life is one of supreme happiness, colour, brightness, thoughtful and intelligent conversation and cuddles, but it is also one constantly stalked by a Black Dog, waiting to leap from the bushes and bite my knee.