You See What I Did There?

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AYSM - Cover With Quote 2

With Are You Seeing Me? hitting the shelves in two weeks, I’d like to share with you some insight into what inspired me to write the novel.

Anyone who’s spent any time with me knows I am Dad to a set of twins: one girl, one boy. My daughter is ‘neurotypical’, which is how people in the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community sometimes refer to regular, everyday kids who do not have autism. She is amazing. She plays trumpet, creates short animated films and adores The Hunger Games. My son, who is three minutes younger than my daughter, is diagnosed with autism. He is amazing, too. He is awesome at Minecraft, swims like a champ and enjoys Pixar films. They will officially be teenagers in 2014.

Are You Seeing Me? is a gift to my daughter. She was due a book – my previous novel, Kindling, was a gift to my son. (By the way, all of my books are gifts for my beautiful
wife). When I first started considering what to write, I kept coming back to a message I held dear for my daughter: ‘You should never feel like you must be your brother’s keeper. Love him, as he loves you, but live your own life to the full.’

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70 Things I Love About My Mum

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My extraordinary Mum turns 70 this week. I love her. Here’s a few of the countless reasons why:

Her green eyes
Her smile
Her louuuud laugh
Her penchant for ‘Tweed’ perfume
Her fierce loyalty to family
Her limitless love of her three boys
She constantly lets me know I am the favourite of her three boys

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Canada, Thank You For ‘Aide-ing’ Us

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Kids Grad

Back in May of 2007, as Term One of our twins’ first and last year of Australian schooling was drawing to a close, we understood the situation:

On Fridays, there would be no teacher-aide support in mainstream class for our autism-diagnosed son. The other four days were fine, but the ‘emergency funding’ for the fifth had run out. If we wanted support, we could pay for it ourselves, or we could come to school with him. Of course, we could always keep him at home if we wanted. This was how it would be for the remainder of the year. This was how it would be for the next twelve years.

You can imagine our emotions – anger, disbelief, disillusionment.

It may surprise you to know there was also relief.

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Take It Back

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When I told my 12 year old ASD son that the media’s reporting of the recent Santa Barbara tragedy had spotlighted the killer as having autism, he was angry. He threw his hands up, stomped the floor, cried out in frustration.

“Why would they do that, Dad?” he asked. “Why would they make it seem as if autism can cause mass murder? As if someone like me could take the lives of other human beings?”

“I don’t know, son,” I replied.

“Do they realize they’re hurting lots of ASD people who’ve done nothing wrong? Do they understand they’re making innocent people suffer?”

“I don’t know, son.”

“And it’s no use apologizing later. Once you’ve said it, it’s out there. You can’t take it back.”

“I know, son.”

There was great truth in my boy’s words…If only they were his words.

None of this conversation, in fact, happened.

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Summer Fun Fundraiser #2

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DLS

My twelve year old Autism-diagnosed son, Jared, is participating in the Delta Life Skills ‘Summer Fun Program’ this year. Summer Fun is a unique six week initiative that enhances the social experiences for 50-60 children and young adults with special challenges and their families, and provides the opportunity to learn a broad range of basic life skills integral to a quality of life which they otherwise may not have had. It costs around $4,500 per child to run Summer Fun – parents are only required to pay $1,000 of that amount. The remainder of the money comes from fundraising, and goes entirely to running the program and providing one-to-one support for every participant.

The next fundraiser is a Pub Night at the Skyhawk restaurant. Here are the details:

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‘Another’ Post About Book Diversity

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Diverse Books

First, the good news:

The recent #WeNeedDiverseBooks Twitter coup was an admirable rebuff of the longstanding hegemonies in children’s and young adult fiction. It doesn’t look like a flash in the pan either, so that’s good too.

Now, the bad news:

The whole exercise has further illustrated – dare I say, reinforced – the pecking order of minorities in both the book debate and the wider society looking on.

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Seeing Is Believing

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AYSM - Cover With Quote 2

Behold the cover for Are You Seeing Me?, formerly Master Disaster, formerly Finding Fault, formerly The Mantle. How did a novel with this much schizophrenia finally make it across the line? I’ll let you know in a little while…

In the meantime, dream of earthquakes, sea monsters and Jackie Chan.

Are You Seeing Me? will be published by Random House Australia in August 2014.

 

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