In the latest of our Spectrum Life blogs we hear from the writer of a series of books inspired by his two autistic sons. Denis Deasy, has just released his fourth book in the series, ‘Don’t Lick The Mailbox’. We asked him to tell us more about his family and his writing…
I have two autistic sons. Denis, who is 32, has Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. James, who is 26, is autistic and completely non-verbal. He also has ADHD, OCD, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety disorder and epilepsy.
Whenever I tell anyone that I have two autistic sons they inevitably say “Wow, they must be really clever!” or “Have they got a special talent?”
These typical misconceptions were the inspirations behind writing my first book, ‘Living In Harry’s World’. Although my books are fictional they are based on my life’s experiences.
I have just published my fourth book entitled ‘Don’t Lick The Mailbox’. The title was thought up by my wife, Joanmarie, who also drew the book cover. Our son James usually lives in a residential care home, but during lockdown we had him home for several months, and on our daily walks James would try to lick all the private mailboxes on the more posh houses – hence the title! These houses all have video security cameras, so I’m not sure what the owners thought if they ever viewed the video of James!!
The book ‘Don’t Lick The Mailbox’ is about a man, with no connection to autism, who has to look after an autistic boy.
Going out with Denis and James is a challenge. James is constantly approaching members of the public, which usually involves just a tap on their shoulder, stamping on their feet or licking their hands. Unsurprisingly this produces a mixed reaction.
Whenever we go to a pub, James likes to take a sip of someone else’s drink and he doesn’t care what drink it is. A while ago an elderly gentleman walked into our local club and sat quietly in the corner reading his newspaper. James dashed over to him, took a gulp of his cider, decided he didn’t like it and promptly spat it over his shirt. I was mortified and offered to pay for another drink and dry cleaning but the guy was exceptionally understanding and declined my offer. PS – I haven’t seen that guy since that day!
Every Christmas we go to a pantomime. It’s a professional performance, but for one night only all the audience members have special needs (attending with their carers and families). Denis doesn’t care too much for pantomimes and I remember one year when there was a lull in the performance Denis stood up (we were five rows from the front) and shouted at the actors. The actors actually stopped to see who gave them the critique.
Another time we went to see an Irish singer called Cara Dillon at a small venue in London. We made the mistake of getting tickets in the front row. Once again Denis didn’t want to be there and spent the entire evening reading his telephone directory (which he carries around with him everywhere) and his Kingston map. Cara was giving a lengthy preamble to one of her songs and Denis shouted out “just get on with it!” I then fully realised what the expression ‘I wish the ground would swallow me up’ meant.
We know some parents of autistic children who restrict their social activities, and I perfectly understand that, but we do everything together as a family and if that leads to a stressful situation we just deal with it. Denis and James are kind, innocent men and we want them to experience everything life has to offer.
Denis’ new book ‘Don’t Lick The Mailbox’ is available to purchase now on Amazon.