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This is the weirdest article on autism I have ever read

(29 Posts)
Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Mon 05-Jun-06 11:23:35

lady astor in the Sunday Times

My friend told me about it when it was published but I've only just got round to reading it and I have to admit it had me as bemused as my friend. Clearly she doesn't have to worry financially "Maria comes in on Saturday mornings to give Olivia hair-washing and showering lessons", but I think, from stuff I've read before that her dd is quite challenging, but she makes it sound like she's just a bit unusual "Olivia’s 13, but she has no teenage interest in fashion or jewellery", as if I'd look at ds1 weeing on the floor and think "such a shame he has no interest in fashion"

The passage that had me howling though was this: "Olivia has changed my life. But I couldn’t imagine having a different Olivia. My husband could. He’s never complained and is a rock, but he says if she hadn’t been autistic he’d have sent her to Benenden."

Beneden???? PMSL

I did quite enjoy reading it, because it was so odd, but I think anyone who knew nothing about autism would end up thinking it was a minor inconvenience and you ended up with a child with no fashion sense. I am tempted to buy the book now!

tobysmumkent Mon 05-Jun-06 11:30:15

Message withdrawn

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Mon 05-Jun-06 11:35:17

ooh let me know. It was the bit with the Daily Telegraph as well- and the bit about going into chat through the day because she likes ot know what's happening. People who have experience of autism know exactly what that means, it's not a chat its an attempt to head off a meltdown but she sounded like they were talkig about the weather.

She has no road sense so must be hard work when out and about. I wondered how she managed the bike ride, do you think that's on the grounds?

I wonder how hands on she is. She sounds as if she still deals with bathtimes etc so must be still pretty hands on.

If the book was like this I might get it. I quite fancy trying to see ds1 through her eyes for a day, I could look at him doing something hideous and thing "gosh how trying that he doesn't understand the Telegraph cartoon"

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 05-Jun-06 11:49:35

Having read both this and the Sunday Times article Jimjams has posted was wondering what you think of this article about the same family:-

Kelly1978 Mon 05-Jun-06 11:56:28

I think I want to read that book. I only have to clear up poo explosions a few times a month, and so I actually emphasise more with Olivia's mum. What she is describing is jsut like ds. He is high functioning and so although he has autistic traits they aren't that severe so I can wish for everyday things as he isn't so far from being able to do them as a severely autisic child is. ds can talk to people, but he can't have a meaningful conversation in any sense. He can dress himself, but will never have any fashion sense. ds is on a downer today as dd has gone back to school, I'm not having a good morning. He went indoors to sulk, and while I was dealing with dt2, he let himself out of the door and off he went. He is nearly 4 but he cna't tell me where he went or what happened. He has no road sense and could have been hit by a car for all I know. He is absolutely filthy and got brought back by a neighbour.

zippitippitoes Mon 05-Jun-06 12:00:57

I found these both interesting articles..perhaps the Daily Telegraph one is more all encompassing.

I think what comes across more in the DT one is the lack of transfer from one situation to another eg the school trips and the sense of being mired in time.

I can also see the stages that Lady Astor has gone through in denial, frantic activity, acceptance, hope, love, despair, fear and anger.

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Mon 05-Jun-06 12:01:23

but Olivia isn't high functioning, that's partly why I thought it was so odd, all the discussin the Daily Telegraph etc. I was being serious about the bike ride as well- if she has no road sense, as I'd love to teach ds1 to boke ride, that's why I wondered whether she was doing it somewhere safe.

Atilla- yes that article made much more sense, thank you - it tied in with previous bits and pieces I had read.

zippitippitoes Mon 05-Jun-06 12:02:36

I imagine they have a circuit of the estate to cycle on.

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Mon 05-Jun-06 12:03:02

I think those stages are fairly standard- and yes I agree you could see them in the DT article, it was something I could identify with. That's another reason why I thought the Times one was so weird, I didn't see any of that in it at all.

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Mon 05-Jun-06 12:03:23

Now I'm jealous

Kelly1978 Mon 05-Jun-06 12:04:04

the article you posted def makes her out to be high functioning, everythign as so played down! It sounds like she is describign a different child the the one in the Telegraph! I wonder if she still goes through phases of denial.

zippitippitoes Mon 05-Jun-06 12:05:26

I read the Daily Telegraph cartoon bit as being an obsession..probably reading the Daily Telegraph is a popular activity in the house and Olivia latched on to something in the cartoon at some time...I guess cartoonists have a distinct style which is repetitious. People tend to read a newspaper at the same time each day. (well I don't but maybe they have quite an orderly household!)

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Mon 05-Jun-06 12:08:48

I can picture what the conversation is like as I know children who are probably functioing at about the same level. have to say I LOVE conversing with those kids as the conversations are so utterly bizarre, and you have to keep calling them back to attention.

I felt she was removed from it all in the Times article Kelly.

Orlando Mon 05-Jun-06 12:09:43

I read this at the time and thought of you Jimjams. This woman has all week to go to London and lunch with friends, and has a nanny, housekeeper secretary etc, even the woman who comes to give the 'showering lessons' (while her ladyship belts out of the house with her MP3 player). And yet she still goes to bed exhausted on Sunday evenings. She seems mildly bewildered by the whole thing, and I thought it was sad that for all the description of Olivia's autistic traits she didn't give any impression of her as a person. she came across as an inconvenience.

zippitippitoes Mon 05-Jun-06 12:12:36

I think the Times article was a lot less insightful..hard to say whether that is the fault of the journalist, I would suggest maybe it was.

I suppose to a certain kind of reader the thought of having a teenage daughter who wasn't interested in fashion might be anathema.

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Mon 05-Jun-06 12:15:04

PMSL. actually I think DH keeps having a lady Astor moment at the moment as he is gutted that ds1 has no concept of the World Cup. He keeps looking at sticker books saying- he should want one of those, I had one when I was 7.....

I think bewildered is a good way of putting it Orlando. Maybe it was the fault of the journalist, the Telegraph article was much more enaged.

coppertop Mon 05-Jun-06 12:49:53

I read the ST article and found myself snorting before I'd even finished the first paragraph. My two are both relatively HF but long leisurely breakfasts definitely do not exist on our particular planet.

jenk1 Mon 05-Jun-06 18:12:34

i felt annoyed when i read this, "I know she,s being cared for, i have this exhilerating sense of freedom" wHAT!!!!!

Try living in a terraced house with no help, no "showering lady" , no back garden and no free time during the week at all and she says she,s exhausted at the end of the week?
What from?
Reading catalogs?
It just doesnt paint a true picture of autism, its like This Morning when they had the family on with the autistic son "XX quickly calms her DS down" and didnt show the full meltdown.

GRRR, tut tut mutter mutter

Davros Mon 05-Jun-06 18:29:39

What a weird article! I've read an article about her some years ago and thought then, "let's see what its like in a few years".... better it seems! I also remember her going on that Trek for the NAS. I can only assume the idea is to raise awareness and state it in terms that would have some meaning to people without children with ASD.
WHen Nick Hornby was on Desert Island Discs I thought Sue Lawley was horrid and rude (as usual). She said to him something like "oh but its OK for you, you've got enough money to provide carers etc" and he was very nice back to her saying that "yes, she was right". I just thought "but it doesn't make his child any less autistic or easier". And I still think that. But it must make it easier if you've got more money or does it? Does it just depend on how severely affected your child is? Your own personality and resilience? THe people around you?

zippitippitoes Mon 05-Jun-06 18:35:26

Money must make more things possible but it probably doesn't change the fundamental impossibilities..she is giving her daughter a kind of equivalent to what she gives her son I guess, she lives a life style that most of us don't know..I'm tempted to think that she spends ,more time with her autistic daughter than many in her psoition do with their children.

I think she does see herself as being in aposition of influence too.

Saker Mon 05-Jun-06 18:45:15

That is an interesting article, but it doesn't seem like the real world. In terms of what you said, Davros - I would agree that having money won't make the pain any less or the worry about the future but I do think it must ease the day to day strain. As far as I can tell from the article Olivia is not at home for 41/2 days a week including the evenings then she is cared for part of Saturday morning also. Plus if you have someone else to do the cooking, washing etc you can be more relaxed in the time you do spend with your child. However I wouldn't feel that comfortable about not seeing my child that amount of time in a week so it wouldn't be a solution for me personally. (Btw I am not criticising parents who do put their autistic children into residential schools etc because I know that in some cases it is impossible to have the child at home all the time.) However in this case I suspect it is more a case of upbringing that children, autistic or not tend to be sent to boarding school, cared for by nannies etc anyway so it doesn't seem particularly unusual to send Olivia away.

tamum Mon 05-Jun-06 18:49:22

It must make things easier practically, mustn't it, if you have pots of money? I know it wouldn't lessen the emotional impact, but at least knowing you could have someone you could pay a good rate, so you had plenty of choice, would be a real help on a day to day level presumably. I'm glad you started this thread- I read this a week or two ago and wondered about it. I thought she was in denial at first, and then thought she was rather sweetly trying to allude to the issues without being disloyal to her daughter. Probably completely wrong of course.... I also wonder whether it was just very heavily edited? It's such a rigid format, that Life in the Day, that maybe her words got lost rather.

tamum Mon 05-Jun-06 18:50:28

Oh, good point about boarding being the norm in that class situation, Saker.

Orlando Mon 05-Jun-06 18:58:24

i think the really odd thing about this article -- or the way she comes across in it-- is that the emotional impact does seem to have been lessened to the point of being almost made negligible. It's as if her money/lifestyle/outlook has enabled her to see Olivia's autism as a curiosity or mild eccentricity. And she kind of admits that her husband is emotionally detached from it all, (and from Olivia herself, since she's not going to be going to Benenden.)

Davros Mon 05-Jun-06 19:42:45

tamum, I agree with you about her trying to mention the issues without being disloyal.... and its probably heavily edited and an odd format!
I know someone with an autistic child who has a LOT of money and I used to hear people who worked for the family being quite judgemental about it. This family had worked hard for their money (not that its anyone's business) and they did a LOT to help other people. One person said they thought it was a disgrace they were getting a Statement and they could just pay for X or Y school. Duh! You simply can't access some things just with money, such as special schools and some respite (DS's respite CAN'T be paid for direct, it has to be via Soc Svs). Apart from anything else, the Statement etc is their child's right and who knows what might happen to them or their money in the future. Not that I'm saying it isn't easier with more money, its just not that straightforward.

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