Thursday, August 2, 2012

Irish Autism Advocate:

Father Jack Hackett

For those of you who are not already familiar with the classic Father Ted Comedy Series this is a link to fill you in So strictly speaking Father Jack was not actually an Autism Advocate in the series but instead he was generally known to be a man of few words who could always make his feelings known nonetheless.
For my autistic brain this was a real blessing. You know where you are with someone like good old Father Jack Autism Advocate. He was never likely to have any hidden agenda’s, no Public Relations team and he could cut through the crap and say exactly what was on his mind. So good old Autism Activist Father Jack, is just the type of person that everyone who has Autism or Aspergers Syndrome, dreams of meeting.
The good Father Jack didn’t have many needs really just a few very obsessive areas of special interest kept him happy. 
His favorite saying was Feck! Drink! This was often expanded upon with the occasional reference to a lovely girl.
So you may now be asking how did Father Jack become an Autism Advocate? Well to be honest it is more a fantasy that I have been having concerning the charming priest. Yes indeed some autistic people can have very strange tastes indeed.
In my daydream I was having a meeting with a representative from the Irish Autism services who are currently the responsibility of the Irish Health Service Executive or the HSE as we more lovingly refer to them.

…Lo and behold when I got to their office who was there to greet me but the cranky, rather foul smelling, fag polluting Father Jack.
Father Jack immediately takes a long pull out of his fag butt and laughs heartily, ‘feck off.’
‘Do I take it then Father Jack that my son isn’t likely to have any services from your multidisciplinary team anytime soon? 
Father Jack displays his trademark crooked smile and his nicotine encrusted teeth.

He flicks his cigarette ash onto the floor and ignores me completely.

I jump startled when he decides to pounds his other hand on the table and shout: ‘Drink. Arse. Girls!’
Then I wonder what about a bribe? So later I come back into the office with a secret weapon i.e. a bottle of Jameson Whiskey.

I wave it in Father Jack’s scarlet frozen face.

‘Father what about a bit of Speech Therapy or Occupational Therapy for my son?’

Jack grabs the bottle in an instant and after a struggle he is enjoying a number of quick swigs from the bottle and eventually mutters, ‘Feck off.’
This response strangely enough is like a breath of fresh air to me. For the love of God why? You might ask. Well at least on this occasion there are no meaningless words, no false smiles that don’t reach his eyes or no vague references to what my child might get at some unspecified date sometime in the future.  
No just this once I am actually being told the plain, truth. Just a good old Feck off your child is getting nothing today and you are not even going to get a nice cup of tea today.
However unlike the H.S.E. (Irish Health Service Executive) or even most of the Autism Advocacy groups there is a method of getting through to Father Jack.
‘…..You know what’ll happen Jack if you don’t sign this form?

Autism Services for your son. Feck Off!

Father Jack pretends he doesn’t hear. So then I turn to Plan B.

When I open the office door Father Ted runs away from it and runs in the opposite direction towards the window. Unfortunately for poor old Autism Advocate father Jack many have already attempted that exit i.e. in a desperate last attempt to get away from the lies, the platitudes and the sheer crap they have been told in this office many have ran for that window already. So recently to avoid any potential bothersome litigation this potential exit has already been barred up with two feet of thick steel.
‘No, no, noooooo……’ Father Jack drops to his knees and nearly loses his grasp on his whiskey. Now he is covering his hands over his ears and shrieking like a bishop giving a sermon. Then I quietly say ‘sign Father and I will get them to feck off.’
Ten minutes later Father Jack has become an proper Autism Advocate and the forms to get my son regular sessions with a Speech Therapist, an Occupational Therapist who is also actually fully trained in Sensory Integration therapy, a Psychologist and he has even thrown in some Music Therapy, the Halliwick Swimming course, Auditory Integration Therapy and weekly consultations with a Nutritionist. Oh what a dream this is  please Mary don’t wake up now!

So who exactly was at the office door you might ask?

It was in fact a nice group of very charming young women. But you might say doesn’t Father Jack love ‘nice girls?’
Oh yes indeed once they don’t happen to be of the ‘Sisters of the Divine Heavens,’ variety who were all nicely attired in pristine black and white dresses which were all divinely  accessorized with Gucci rosary beads. Or to just put it more simply they were….’feckin nuns!’

Unfortunately this nice dream must come to a close and back in reality asking for services or financial assistance for your autistic child in Ireland is still very much like asking Father Dougal to give a sermon that makes sense. Or getting Father Ted himself to fully explain the mystery surrounding that sum of money that was apparently just resting in his account? These same funds that had nothing to do with Father Ted subsequently enjoying a rather fast paced break in Las Vegas and ending up serving the rest of his priesthood days on Craggy island.  Hmmm, that’s another story entirely.

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