12 July 2011

An Open letter to Ken MacLeod

You may be wondering who Ken is. Meet him here.

Dear Ken,

I see from your photograph in the Birmingham Mail that you appear to have a disability; a physical disability, open for all to see. Maybe because people see your difference to an able bodied person they treat you a little more kindly, open doors for you, take a little more time to listen to you and your needs, give you a little respect.

I would like you for just a short while to imagine that your disability is hidden and what that might be like. It's inside. It's real enough but people cannot see it. Imagine that your mind and brain are all there but the wiring got a little muddled and so sometimes you don't understand what is happening around you. Perfectly normal day to day situations can be a challenge because communication is sometimes a little difficult or even very difficult. You don't understand something or get scared of a hostile reaction or something that really doesn't scare anyone who doesn't have your difference and so you become frustrated and because perhaps you're young, people around you make judgements about you as a person and your behaviour and when adding up that two plus two make a sum that is not four. Assumptions are made about you. Incorrect assumptions. You are judged. No jury of your peers, no understanding and no desire for understanding. Can you do that Ken? Can you put aside your own personal prejudices for a little while and put yourself into the shoes of a young person, with a hidden disability? If you can then you're in a pretty scary and judgemental world.

Autistic spectrum disorders are very misunderstood. As a mother of a child who is on the spectrum I sometimes find it very difficult to understand my child but the difference between you and me is that I try to understand and I do put myself in their shoes in an attempt to make some sense of what is happening and what is needed. These children and young people are not delinquents. I could go into massive detail about what it is like to watch your child come home from school day after day, year after year bullied to becoming a complete wreck, just because they are different, tell you how bad provision is for such children let alone that when they become young adults provision becomes virtually non-existent but I will not. All I ask is that you reconsider your comment...

"things they wanted to do there weren't right for the area"

Is Streetly an Autistic free zone? Are there no young people there that suffer from this hidden disability? I suggest that there are but that you have blinkers on and refuse to see anything other than your own prejudices. Knowing a person young or old with Autism is an amazing experience. They see things differently to an non-Autistic person and with that can bring joy at embracing an alternative view of the world. I issue and invitation to you and your supporters. Come and meet with us or perhaps with a group that helps such children and young adults. Come with an open mind and an open attitude. You may be surprised at what you discover about this world and about yourself.

Welcome to the Big Society!


And for those who do want to learn a little more here is a useful place to start.....


  1. Have you sent this to the Birmingham Mail, Linda?

  2. No, I hadn't thought about that!