Wednesday, April 2, 2014

World Autism Day - The Carnival Ride

Today Is World Autism Awareness Day.

Not only do we want to raise awareness amongst the greater community about the challenges of living with Autism, we also want to take today to reflect on the joy and wonder that Autism brings to our world.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about how it feels to find yourself parenting a child with ASD.
I am re-posting it today, for Autism Awareness.

Like so many young romantic couples, we bought tickets to go on the Carousel.

Many of our friends had already gone on it and said it was great. It looked like fun and we could afford it. We had to wait in line, but we had friends waiting too, so it was a good, gossipy wait, talking about what it would be like.

When we finally got through the gates, none of our friends were near us.The ride started and almost immediately, we realised that we were on the wrong ride.

Our seats didn't look like the other seats, and the cars banged and crashed and made weird noises. The seat belts pinched and I felt the first tentacles of fear sneaking into my heart.

A man popped out in a white coat and told us we were on the Monster Crash Roller Coaster. He smiled in a detached way and sent us through the big swinging doors.


The Roller Coaster is not at all like the Carousel. It is unpredictable, frightening and fast. There are exhilarating highs and stomach churning free-fall drops. There is always a jagged corner hurtling towards you and you never really know where you will go next. You can't hear anyone else because there is so much other noise, and sometimes you actually scream in true fear.

Even with someone sitting right next to you, there are moments when you feel totally and desperately alone. 

You can see the carousel in the distance, with it's pretty lights and gentle well groomed ponies.

Your friends are watching you, as you fly through the air, hair tangled, clothes askew. You can't explain to them why you aren't sitting nicely or why you need to hang on so tight. You know from where they sit, you look wild eyed and out of control. You wish you were sitting on a happy little pony, not this monster ride. 

You start to worry that you will not make it to the end. You worry the safety rail will fly open, that your car will derail. You forget to breath. Your stomach churns and your fingers ache with the effort of holding on.You close your eyes and wish for it to be over, to be different.

But then... you stop and really concentrate.  Your heart is leaping, not only in fear but also in the most incredible joy. You are starting to anticipate the climb and then the drop. You learn to hang on tight in the scary bits, and you open your eyes and really look at the world from the very peak of the steep climbs.

The world looks so different up here, and none of those people on the Carousel can possibly see the world from this angle. 

They have no idea how beautiful it can be up here. 

At the last climb and free fall, you are grinning, eyes wide open. 

As you reach the peak, you let go of the safety bar and raise your hands over your head and welcome the rush.

The ride slows down and we turn to each other, grinning from ear to ear. No, it wasn't the Merry-go-round ride we anticipated. It was so, so much more.

We have since then ridden on the Carousel. It is fun and wonderful too. But there is always a special place in our hearts for the Roller Coaster... what a ride.


  1. I can relate to this. I like that you place such joy and excitement on the roller coaster. Me, I cannot see that as yet with my boys. I'm on a third different ride. Or rather, I feel like everyone else in on the roller coaster fun of fun and excitement, whereas we are on the carousel, slow and repetitive.

  2. Sarah, I can tell you, I absolutely didn't always enjoy the ride. AT ALL. Now with some space and years and experience behind us, I realise we are all on a ride, just as I believe we all slip-slide somewhere along the spectrum. High functioning, low functioning, brilliant or non-verbal, we all are just doing our best and running like mad things. I've done slow and repetitive until I wanted to scratch my eyeballs out with a teaspoon. Hang in there, this too shall pass xx


Your comments are welcome, please be kind and respectful. We all have different views of the world, sharing your view with gentle words is Lisa