Sunday, January 15, 2012


We have never had one of these before. I am still working out how to use it. The first week, I declared it broken. My husband pointed out that it needed to be turned on to work. Ah, I said. Then I got over-confident and jammed it with apple cores. My husband discovered that egg shells didn't really agree with it either. But then we discovered that bicarbonate of soda was an effective remedy, and bought it in industrial quantities. Since then we have been tiptoeing round it rather like a new and exotic species of pet. "Do you think it will take banana skins?" "Not sure. It had a kiwi fruit yesterday." I am waiting for some In-Sink-Erator Protection Society to come along and tell us that we have been treating it shamefully, feeding it too many refined carbs and not enough vegetables.

Feel free to wince at the strained analogy, but there is something slightly similar in the post-diagnostic moment. I remember coming back to Yorkshire from London, having just been to see VERY PRESTIGIOUS AND PRICEY CONSULTANT. I looked at the boy sitting in our living room, and had a rush of totally irrational panic: I don't know how to raise a child with autism. I called up a friend who has three of them. She laughed. "It's all right. Nothing changes. You just carry on as before." She's right, of course, you do, and gradually you learn that there are remedies to get you both unstuck, people who have suggestions to make that might help. The bicarbonate of soda of learning delay. You cease to tiptoe around each other and just get on with the business of being a family again.

Rather like the post-diagnostic moment, at the present time all my senses are strained, heightened. A chance encounter in a shop can have me pondering on a possibly essential aspect of New Zealand culture. I can read too much into a road sign, into an overworked shop assistant's abruptness, into an unanswered email. I am constantly looking for clues that will enable to me to decode this new and strange society. It's a bit like learning to use the In-Sink-Erator. In time, I will gain my confidence back, just as I did post-diagnosis, and learn to live normally, carrying on as before.

In the meantime, there's always bicarbonate of soda, and blogging...

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