This is all true, more or less. Everything in this book happened and it all seemed pretty normal at the time. Nick was born into a normal family living in a small flat near the docks. He was unusually quiet. This was good for a baby, but a problem for an older kid. He’d clam up and stare at walls. School was causing problems, everything was causing problems. Doctors were consulted and a diagnosis resulted: Asperger’s syndrome. Nick loved rules. One of those rules was no swearing. Asperger’s had “Ass” in it, so that was clearly a no-go. Instead it was Donkey Burgers.
Donkey Burgers is a coming of age story written by an author who went through special school. There’s a lot of stories about autism, and they aim at inspiration or misery. In reality things are much more complicated than that. The protagonist deals with the onset of puberty, and the dark turns things can take in a cloistered school environment. He deals with unrequited feelings, fitting in at school and a tragic loss.
Donkey Burgers explores how autism affects people from birth to adulthood. It’s about dating, heartbreak, friendship and fitting in, and how it can impact on a family. It takes turns both comedic and dark. It shows experiences of dating and trying to fit in that many people can relate to as well as attempts to explain the incredibly unique experiences that come with being autistic. It’s about struggles with sexuality too, and how complicated things can get when there’s already one thing a bit different about you.
This is a story that hasn’t been told anywhere else, but it’s the story of a lot of people and one that needs telling. People have tried to write autism either as a device or as a compassionate outsider. This time the story gets told by someone who’s been there. There are others out there, telling their stories. They have always been telling them, even if the telling is quiet and the audiences small. They all need telling, one way or another, but not quietly.
I have often thought "there but for the grace of god" about people whose circumstances were almost indistinguishable from mine. Everything seemed quite normal at the time and as is often the case it is hindsight that offers its eventual services in distinguishing the quotidian from the unexpected. It is often hard to recognise the peculiarity of one's own life. Perhaps the novelty of the paths less travelled by is less obviously apparent when they are the only ones available. On looking back and resting a while at a turning point, I feel ready to take account of the journey. It is an easy thing to postpone such an account for hope of a better or more complete ending, but the most complete ending given is one which renders writing oneself impossible.
Some events may be misremembered or exaggerated, so this should be treated as fiction as a rule. Names have been changed to protect the innocent and guilty alike, though the complexities of life mean they are often one and the same. As much as the events recorded here have rendered me very much not in sound mind, and the wiring of my brain skews my perceptions in ways both obvious and subtle, I feel this is on the whole an accurate summary of how a special needs kid overcomes obstacles inspirationally, and what comes next.
Most of what follows is true, but being truthful so publicly may be seen as being rude. So names may be slightly different, streets moved next door, the dullness sucked out so the anecdotes sit in a vacuum. Trips to the shops for groceries have by and large been omitted, unless accompanied by something entertaining, which hasn't really occurred that often. So, this is a novel.
We've hit 25 backers on the book. Thanks to everyone for your support. I'll keep sharing the book on social media and I encourage everyone else to do so too. There's still a way to go, but I think it can get there.
These people are helping to fund Donkey Burgers.