I’ve read some amazing books with autism as a major theme of late and as this is a subject that I know needs greater exposure, I’m delighted to welcome Kate Hughes, author of Home, onto Linda’s Book Bag. Although fiction, Home is based on Kate’s own family. It gives me great pleasure to help Kate spread the word about the effects of autism on all the family.
Home is available for purchase in e-book here.
“You need to come and get my daughter. She’s not safe anymore.”
For Sophie, life with her daughter has never been easy. Rosie’s extreme autism has made her unpredictable and often difficult. Like most mothers though, her first instinct has always been to protect her child and keep her close. However, when Rosie’s escalating violence culminates in a terrifying incident at home, Sophie is faced with a choice that no parent ever wants to make. A choice that will inevitably plunge her into a set of unimaginable new circumstances which will test her to the limit.
A true test of a mother’s love.
Could you send your child away?
A Guest Post by Kate Hughes
It’s a word which seems to be on everyone’s lips in recent years. It’s in the news, on the television and in books. People you meet may know someone, or have taught someone, or are related to someone, or know someone who knows someone else…who is autistic. The upshot being, that many of us have a little bit of knowledge of the condition and think we understand it, but the autistic spectrum is in fact huge and no two autistic children are exactly alike.
Autism has played a huge part in my family’s life for many years. Like everyone else, we were only vaguely aware of this condition until my beautiful niece Eva was diagnosed 13 years ago. I’d certainly had some experience in my job as a primary school teacher, however the reality of seeing my sister living day to day with an autistic child is very different to the snapshot you see in an educational setting. It has been a steep learning curve for us all.
I finally decided to write my novel Home after seeing my sister go through the painful process of putting 12 year old Eva into residential care when her extreme behaviour escalated. I felt it was a story that needed to be told since many people are unaware of the meltdowns and violence which can make older autistic children very difficult to manage.
You often hear of children being taken into care but you don’t often hear about parents who have made that decision themselves. Looking in from the outside, all people might see is someone who just couldn’t cope. The reality is very different. I know that my sister’s decision came at the end of a very long road of coping with things that other parents will never have to experience. Most people can’t begin to imagine their own child being violent towards them.
I wanted to give an insight into the terrible set of events which leads a parent to make this decision and the enormous guilt which comes with it. It has a huge effect on the entire family. Suddenly one of their loved ones is no longer part of everyday family life. I hoped it might also comfort readers who may have gone, or be going through, a similar ordeal. Just to realise that you’re not the only one and that others have felt your pain can be extremely reassuring.
It had to be a work of fiction because after all, essentially, I am a storyteller. So although my protagonist, Sophie, experiences many of the same events and feelings as my sister, there are also lots of differences in her character and life story.
Once I’d made the decision, writing Home was a difficult and fairly long process. Apart from the fact that I’m a teacher and mother of three children which means I have a million things to do each day, I needed to make sure the events were accurate and so there was much interrogation of my sister and other family members! I also wanted to make it more than just a miserable memoir, I wanted to create an uplifting story which shows the true power of a mother’s love for a special needs child.
I hope you feel the final book has achieved what I set out to do.
About Kate Hughes
Kate Hughes is a primary school teacher of more than twenty years. Her passion for reading from an early age has finally led her to making her own contribution to the world of books. Her debut novel Mr Brown’s Suitcase was published in 2014. Home is her second novel.
Kate lives in Derbyshire with a husband, three feisty daughters and a lively lilac tortoiseshell cat.