Reaching One Thousand: A Story of Love, Motherhood and Autism

Rachel Robertson

Reaching One Thousand: A Story of Love, Motherhood and Autism
  • Format
  • Publisher
  • Country
  • Published
  • Pages
  • ISBN

Reaching One Thousand: A Story of Love, Motherhood and Autism

Rachel Robertson

‘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 ‘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 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 behaviour becomes 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. Along the way she explores her own childhood, discovering unexpected links between Ben’s experiences and her own. Before she can presume to tell Ben’s story, she realises, she must face difficult questions - questions about intimacy, trust, and what it means for a mother to write about her child. Exquisitely written, this is a thought-provoking reflection on family and understanding and a tender love letter from a mother to her son.


Firstly, I read Reaching One Thousand because I’m the mother of a child with learning differences, and love another child with autism. I think there are many of us out there that love someone who is a tad different to others. Is this enough of a reason to read this book? No, it’s not, but if you enjoy beautifully crafted writing about someone’s life, then there is another reason.

Robertson’s writing is superb. Her fiction and essays have been widely published. Her essay ‘Reaching One Thousand’ was joint winner of the 2008 Calibre Prize and laid the foundations for this book.

When her child, Ben, is a baby, Robertson believes him to be eccentric. There is a charm to his eccentricity and she enjoys it, but she is aware that she is making excuses for him constantly. Eventually he is diagnosed with autism. The diagnosis and the acceptance of both herself as a mother and of her son is where the real pathos in this book begins. This is a crossing all us parents must embark on at some stage, and Robertson depicts this wonderfully, with determination and skill.

What resonated for me were her stories of explaining Ben to schools, health officials, psychologists, friends and family. When you have a child that is atypical, you are continually interviewed about your parenting and your child’s significant developmental moments. Robertson’s strength is that throughout these examinations she also questions her own life, and even her right to write about her son in a public forum.

Reaching One Thousand is an ode to being a mother, to family and to accepting that we cannot do a damn thing to change our children that are different, but we can make sure that their path is clear.

[missing asset] Christine Gordon is the Events Coordinator for Readings and is a committee member of The Stella Prize.

This item is not currently in-stock. It can be ordered online and is expected to ship in 3-6 days

Please note, we cannot guarantee delivery in time for Christmas after Wednesday 1 December. Click here for more information.

Please note, our stock data is updated overnight, and availability may change throughout the day. Prices are subject to change without notice.

Sign in or become a Readings Member to add this title to a wishlist.