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My son was diagnosed with autism at five. Did he inherit it from my misunderstood mother?


When my son was diagnosed, I was told the condition was hereditary. Suddenly my late mother’s ‘eccentric, bossy’ personality began to make sense

Solomon was my first baby. He was loud. He screamed full throttle for an hour until the midwife swaddled him. I knew he was different from the moment I washed his slick dark hair and saw the ecstasy on his face. At home, he’d stare at his ladybird rattle for 15 minutes at a time. He’d gurgle with delight when we sang to him, but scream frenetically at the noise of the Hoover or blender. At postnatal groups, he’d crawl into a corner, alone.

As a toddler, he learned all his times tables from watching a video repeatedly. He adored Thomas The Tank Engine and could quote from it seamlessly. Solomon had hyperlexia, a precocious reading ability. He was exceptional at maths but also an avid reader. He loved words. He’d make up brilliant, onomatopoeic neologisms to describe facial expressions that amused him (an “agarg” was absolute surprise).

My mother used to turn up, unannounced. That would be reasonable, had she not travelled 6,000 miles from Nigeria

Related: Is my autism a superpower?

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