‘He’ll grow out of it,’ my friends told me.
‘He’s so intelligent,’ my family said.
‘Your parents are mathematicians,’ people reminded me. ‘What did you expect?’
What did I expect? We expect many things of our children. Most of the time we are only aware of these expectations when something happens to make it impossible for them to be fulfilled.
When Ben is a baby, Rachel puts his behavioural quirks down to eccentricity. He likes to count letterboxes; he hates to get his hands dirty; loud noises make him anxious.
But as Ben grows and his quirks become more pronounced, it becomes clear there is something else going on. When he is diagnosed with autism, Rachel must reconsider everything she thought she knew about parenting, about Ben, and about how best to mother him.
Reaching One Thousand charts her quest to understand autism and to build a new kind of relationship with her son.
Exquisitely written, this is a thought-provoking reflection on family and understanding and a tender love letter from a mother to her son.
Shortlisted for the 2013 National Biography Award.
‘Rachel Robertson has achieved something incredible with Reaching One Thousand. Infused with lyricism, love, respect, nuance and open-minded curiosity, this is the best book I've read about a parent seeking to understand the interior life of her child, and the experience of autism. An intimate and moving tour de force.’ —Natasha Mitchell, ABC Radio National
‘Deeply touching but never sentimental, this remarkable book is more than a story of one boy and his mother. It’s a thoughtful meditation on the intricate workings of the human mind and heart.’ —Toni Jordan
‘This is the best kind of memoir – there is a beautiful calm clarity that drew me in, and held me until the end.’ —Georgia Blain
‘Reaching One Thousand is an exceptional achievement. Rachel Robertson’s deeply moving story of raising her autistic son has a kind of quiet truthfulness, born of uncommon powers of observation, wry humour, a capacity to pay attention to what matters, and a fine moral intelligence.’ —Anne Manne, author of Motherhood and The Story of I
‘Robertson eloquently captured not just the trials of autism but also the rewards of being exposed to her son’s unique view of the world.’ —Weekend Australian