Is this some sort of sign? Juggling starting my Kickstarter campaign, losing my carer, and my son becoming unwell all during Easter holidays? It all falls on my shoulders and I haven’t even took a breath after preparing for the campaign, making videos, creating content and working around the clock.
During the Kickstarter campaign is the only time when is not only allowed, but also encouraged to take your phone into the toilet, eat and type, read and write……. I need to engage in order to create followers and backers or this is just not going to work.
Can you help me spread the word and connect more people to the project?
Now my plan was to be on social media as much as possible, but since I am not recruiting a media company to do it for me, taking care of my son has become priority. Feeding, dressing, washing, walking, driving, stimulating... he needs help with everything. That’s not how people see autism. People rarely think a person on the spectrum has so many physical limitations.
I do get looks from random people who don’t understand why my son is in a wheelchair at the supermarket, or why he needs help out of the car.
Why someone who is able to walk cannot walk and therefore is entitled to blue badge. Add to it my disability, also invisible, I don’t expect people to know that this affects my ability to look after him.
I don’t assume anyone to understand. I am willing to help them to make sense of it all, this is why I have been designing cute t-shirts for my son over the years.
There is always the big daily issue of other parents judging my son as badly behaved and setting off to engage with me in parenting advice (that would then upset him).
Then the questions by little people of ‘why doesn’t he talk?’ need a good answer.
During travel on public transport, having a specific shirt was life saving. Back in the day, before we had a car, a ride on a bus often resulted in us walking home. People can be unintentionally cruel. My sons t-shirt somehow eased the stare and distinguished the disapproval.
Air travel was also made so much more easier with a simple T-shirt. How can anyone possibly know a child has autism? Sometimes the signs are hard to see.
Even our dog had a t-shirt! People would just look at her cute brown bear face and soften up with their responses.
Now that my son is growing and not ‘looking’ autistic, the necessity for advertising he has autism became a lot more pressing. Tall and stylish, my son would be pushed over and assaulted for the perceived ‘not looking where he was going’ or for ‘being arrogant’ . This t-shirt was created to avoid conflict in daily life.
Lots of the t-shirt designs I have made over the years were specific requests from parents, like this popular design.
Children would wear them simply because it has Thomas on it. Something that is not an easy thing to do for a child who seeks familiarity.
This one is very special as it was the most thought intense design. A young man with Aspergers approached me on social media and we started a very long media chat to establish what sort of t-shirt he could wear to solve his predicament.
He has composed many messages to try and explain what it is that he needs people instantly to know about him on approach. Extremely smart and eloquent yet timing was the issue.
It took him writing a very long message with a detailed explanation of what he was experiencing on a daily basis at the college. The idea arrived instantly, but it needed to be not only sending the message that was appropriate and clear to understand, but also to be something that the person on the spectrum would actually want to wear.
The analogy to the computer was a clear answer.
I am often criticised by parents of children with autism for this solution. I am told, that people shouldn’t be so ignorant. That labelling someone is disrespectful. I don’t believe it is.
My reason is simple;
- We live in busy London amongst very busy people, mostly on their phones. Not looking around much.
- I don’t expect people to understand by simply looking at my son that he cannot read people’s body language and guess which way they are planning to go.
- I have the power to deal with this from my site, the rest I cannot change.
To some, a t-shirt is something they put on. For others, it’s a way of expression. For the autism community, it’s a life saving necessity.
We are now introducing a new reward. Autism awareness t-shirts. Pledge support for our ‘Nono exclusion’ campaign and get your hands on one of these t-shirts too.
Aless & #teamnono