Red Kites and Autism

There are a pair of Red Kites that circle the skies outside my window. They flit in and out of view throughout the day, flashing their red at me, rolling in and out of air currents splendiferously. Home is where the Red Kites roll, and rock, and roll again.

Thirty years ago they were a rare sight. Mistakes were made. Misunderstandings. It was believed that Kites killed young livestock and other birds and animals. In the 19th Century Gamekeepers and Farmers wiped them from the skies. The Kites disappeared from England and Scotland. Their last UK refuge was here, in the oak trees of Wales. So few. So vulnerable.

Misunderstandings, because Kites are primarily carrion feeders, tidiers, not killers.

Misunderstanding is always damaging. The kindest of motivations – protecting a newborn lamb – can lead to the most monstrous of actions – removing a gentle beauty from the world.

Autism is often misunderstood. It’s the scary monster. Something that creeps from behind the curtains and steals your child away. It’s the changeling, the bogeyman, the night terror. Something to be exterminated, defeated, removed.

To protect the innocent child you vilify the autism.

Misunderstanding that the autism is the child. The child is the autism. You cannot defeat one without defeating the other. When you benefit from one, you’re benefiting from the other.

Understanding, such a soft and undulating word.

Awareness, all visible and sharp. Understanding, all layered and deep.

My world is made better by the flight of the Kites. My Phoenix, rising from its fire of misunderstanding. Returning from the brink, triumphant.

People’s capacity for knee jerk reactions is surpassed only by their capacity to learn and develop. People who knew the truth of the Kites fought to educate, they fought for laws to protect the vulnerable, they fought for understanding, and now the population is thriving.

As long as the Kites are flying, so is my hope. We can learn. We can protect. We can understand.

5 thoughts on “Red Kites and Autism

  1. This was beautifully written. I like Red Kites, there weren’t any in the area I grew up in, although there are other birds of prey. When I moved to where I live now 10 years ago, Red Kites were rarely seen, but they’ve really spread, and now I see them often. It’s good to see them thrive. There is a lot of misunderstanding about raptors (and of course autism, which is your point), and it makes me sad.

    I liked that you describe the word ‘understanding’ as soft and undulating. I see it that way too. But ‘awareness’ for me is more like a big dark blob, spreading outwards at the edges, not sharp, but yes, very visible. Interesting how different individuals have different impressions of words.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So beautifully written. Thank you. I regularly visit friends in mid-Wales and always seek out the kites soaring above me, as confirmation that I’ve arrived in Powys, or more usually not until I reach Ceredigion. The analogy is very poignant.


  3. When, not so long ago, we lived in Pembrokeshire, red kites were new to us, and it took us a little while to distinguish them from the more ubiquitous buzzards. All we knew is that the sight of them made our hearts soar. Now we’re in the Black Mountains instead of the Preselis we’re so pleased that they’re as omnipresent. And they still make our hearts soar, especially when they float directly overhead — that’s always magical and makes us feel so privileged. Thanks for this reminder of how they positively feed our emotions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very welcome. We are so lucky in Wales to have kept a hold of such beautiful birds.

      I can’t even remember when my mother taught me that a buzzard’s tail is a fan, whilst a kite’s is an inverted V. Information as important to me as how to tie my laces.

      Never forget to look up.

      Liked by 1 person

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