Life Outside the Box

Paula Glenister

Paula Glenister

I’ve spent many years caring for my autistic son. Last year I watched a BBC television documentary with Christine McGuinness called Unmasking My Autism.

The programme charts Christine’s journey after she was diagnosed with autism. And that’s when I realised – there’s a reason why I get my son. And that’s because I’m autistic too.

Suddenly my whole childhood fell into place.

I contacted my GP, answered hundreds of questions on forms which too decided that I’m likely to be autistic and was referred to a specialist. This is the letter they sent me:

‘Dear Madmam ….. sorry Madam

‘We write with regards to your application for an autism assessment. We are sorry to say, that with the NHS waiting lists being what they are, it will be some time before it can be arranged. At the last count, we were working into the future – some 10 to 15 years.

‘If you are still living at the same address, and indeed are still living, we can assure you that we will be making every effort to offer you a speedy resolution, probably with one of our AI bots. In the meantime, try to relax and know that you are one of the few… now reaching into the millions, who view life from outside the box.

‘We have to say, that the list wouldn’t have been quite so long if some celebrity hadn’t gone and shared her story on television.

‘I mean, we were having enough trouble keeping up with the boys, then someone noticed that girls get autism too. Who knew? And we can’t even use the same criteria to assess them. After all, they’re girls aren’t they? They were always going to be more awkward.

‘And on top of that, the adults want in. Not just the men, but … women. Quite frankly, if you’ve made this far, what difference is it gonna make? Still, keep smiling, and remember to keep looking outside that box while you wait.’

This is my reply:

‘Dear Sir,

‘Thank you for your letter. I think.

I’ve just got one question: When do I get my box?’

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