Photo of Jamie & Lion

The personal site of Jamie Knight, an autistic web developer, speaker and mountain biker who is never seen far from his plush sidekick Lion. View the Archive

Topics: Autism Development

On Autism (Lion)

Autism* is a whole bunch of things to a whole bunch of people. It’s Autism Awareness month so I figured I better write something. So I sat down, wrote a title, and started to think. What do I, Jamie, think about “Autism”.

I figure I can write about tons of things. Independence, sensory issues, communication issue, meltdowns, obssessions.. But, this is not new. This is just me repeating what you can read elsewhere. What do I, jamie, think about Autism.

I think of Lion.

Lion is plush toy about 4 feet long, very worn, with a “distinctive” smell and a tangled mane. He never** leaves the side of a 23 year old web developer at the BBC, called, erm, Me.

I have had Lion for years, but i have not always carried him. It would be social suicide for a teenager to carry a giant lion around. By the time i was 12 / 13 Lion stayed in my bed. After some seriously complicated stuff left me somewhat homeless when i was 16/17 i sat down and decided, dammit. I wanted Lion by my side because it simply made me feel “better”.

So, i’m 23 and i have a trait common with a 5 year old. Should i not be ashamed? Embarrassed? Should i not hide the Lion? I dont think so.

I dont feel the social pressure too, i dont feel social pressure most of the time, yes, but regarding the Lion i feel no social pressure at all. Many people have explained to me how i am misreading the world in this regard. I’m sure they are right. However, i like the way the Lion smells.

I should probably feel ashamed perhaps? Feel like i am not “manly” enough, or that i should show i am strong. I don’t feel a need. I can run and jump and do tae kwon do (badly). I’m not brittle, I would say I am robust. However, I like the way the Lion is consistant.

Surely I should hide Lion, keep him a secret? Feel exposed, afraid and a freak. Nope. I don’t really keep track of such things. Yes, i feel afraid of being targeted as vunerable somtimes. Yes, i sometimes do worry about if Lion will be misunderstood by people around me. However, most people respond well to Lion. Lion is really simple.

Lion is part of me, my “autism”, my connection with the world. Lion represents the deepest parts of how i work. Autism Awareness month can talk about how Lion taps into all sorts of autism related things. But ultimately, he is just my Lion.

(*) I ‘have aspergers’ which is on the autism spectrum.
(**) I know of 4 occurences since I was ~17 where Lion was away from me.

Published: 2 April 2013 | Categories: , Permalink


  1. Sunday Stilwell · Apr 2, 07:50 pm ·

    One of my favorite things about you, Jamie, is that you have your sidekick Lion with you. I love that he is not just a part of your personal life away from social media but that he is ingrained here too.

    As a mom of two sons with autism, both of which are very attached to their respective plushies, it warms my heart to read your stories, tweets, and posts about Lion and how he brings you calm and peace.

  2. Lisa B · Apr 2, 09:01 pm ·

    Hi Jamie. Thank you for sharing this perspective. As a mom of a little boy on the high end of the spectrum, I would like you to know that your post is probably one of the best things I have read to explain Autism to others. Thank you for sharing. I found you through Sunday and I am so glad she shared. I would like to share your post as well, to help other people understand.

  3. Jennifer St. Jude · Apr 2, 09:12 pm ·

    Saw this post by accident off a friend of a friend of a friend Facebook post. It made me smile. It made me feel not alone to be different then what others need you to be. It made me feel happy to know someone like you is out there. I think you are strong and brave and an inspiration!!! Thank you for sharing. You make me proud to be in the world with Autism. (((Hug)))

  4. JennDirks · Apr 3, 02:18 pm ·

    My dear… You are courageous and that should be embraced. Lion gives you the strength to remember who you are and that’s your grounding point.

    My daughter has her “lion” too. She’s ASD and 11. My son is 15 and NT and guess what… he’d never let the world know it, but in his own way… SHE is HIS lion.

    We all have lions. Embrace yourself and continue to be you. Unique and lovely!

  5. Tara · Apr 3, 02:33 pm ·

    thank you for sharing your story. My son is almost 11 and has Autism. I am going to share your story with him because in our very small town he doesn’t know any grown-ups with Autism. He actually only knows two other children with Autism. It is so important for him to know that it is ok to be who he is.

  6. Janet B · Apr 3, 03:03 pm ·

    Jamie, thank you so much for sharing you & Lion with us. I am a grandmother of a 7 year old autistic boy who it attached to his “beebee”. It has been with him since birth & at bedtime & times of stress it is his comfort. He used to take it everywhere with him but now he is content to know that it is in his bed waiting for him when he comes home from school.

    I have saved your message & will show it to him someday. He is considered mildly autistic but in many ways he excels past kids his age that are considered normal. He is in a regular 1st grade class & the kids love him & stand in line to be his partner. This has been made possible by people like yourself not being ashamed & willing to speak out.

    I hope that someday our paths would cross, because I would probably give Lion a big hug & tell him thank you for being there for you & would hug you also if you wanted. I am just a grandma that promotes Autism Awareness 365 days a year.

    God bless you Jamie!

  7. Christan-Nate's mom · Apr 3, 03:07 pm ·

    Jamie, I enjoyed your post. My 19 year old son has Asperger’s as well. The cadence and content of your story remind very much of him. I don’t know if “brave“is the right word because I don’t want to suggest that you should feel any negativity about Lion, but it makes me feel good to see how comfortable you are in who you are. Nate struggles with that sometimes. I am going to share this with him. Happy Autism Awareness Month to you and Lion!

  8. jamie p · Apr 3, 03:11 pm ·

    Thank you for sharing your story! It is nice to hear the feelings of an adult who is on the Autism spectrum! You, and Lion fill me with hope for my son Robby who is 9!

  9. Melissa Esham · Apr 3, 03:38 pm ·

    Simply sending Lion some love and wishing for my own Lion.

  10. SGF · Apr 3, 04:27 pm ·

    Hi Jamie!
    Thank you for sharing your story. As a mom of two on the spectrum (almost 19 yo daughter and 13 son), it touched my heart.
    My daughter is almost 19 and when she is nervous or anxious, she carries a stuffed dog that is nearly worn through around with her. I’ve never seen a reason to discourage it. It helps her feel safe and happy.
    You’re an inspiration and have my utmost admiration!!
    Blessings sent your way!!

  11. Amelia · Apr 3, 04:50 pm ·

    Wonderful. Never mind autism. We should all be more independent and simply live as we want (while respecting others, of course). From a 37 year old who only recently discovered the joy of pink, fluffy, sparkly girly things :)

  12. Linda Cowen · Apr 3, 05:06 pm ·

    Everyone has their “Lion”, the thing that makes them feel that all is right with the world, and they are safe. Yours is cuter than most, and that is all. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Karen · Apr 3, 05:13 pm ·

    Thank you for sharing your story. My 23-year-old son is also autistic and carries a Princess Peach doll wherever we go. She is his comfort and best pal. He has had her for 5 years and is (as I like to say) very well loved. I showed him your article and it made him smile. Love your Lion.

  14. Tina · Apr 3, 05:51 pm ·

    The world is so full of people trying to conform to what is considered the norm. It’s great to hear that you can be unique and be yourself. My son is 4.5 years old and loves to carry familiar things with him always. Maybe one day he will settle for a soft toy…. :-)

  15. Ernesto Unionista · Apr 3, 09:14 pm ·

    I was at a business today to see a particular salesman. I noticed that he had a couple of plush toys on his desk. Were they his or just reminders of his kids? I don’t really know but, either way, it did not make me think any less of him. Actually, until I read this story, I didn’t think of it at all after leaving the business. I’m sure my attitude is quite typical.

  16. nikki · Apr 3, 11:09 pm ·

    It’s good that you have the personal strength to fully own up to your comfort pet Lion. Certainly, many people will find odd but in the end, most of us are clutching their mobile where ever we go, including on the bedside table, so really, your object of safety and comfort is almost more appropriate…:-)

  17. nathanbush · Apr 4, 02:20 am ·

    I salute you, sir!

  18. Cassandra · Apr 4, 05:39 pm ·

    Thank you for this post!! Much love..

  19. Susan Senator · May 13, 05:20 pm ·

    Hi Jamie,
    I love this post and other thoughts you’ve had on this blog. I am a blogger and author, and the mom of a 25 year old guy with autism (Nat). I hope it’s okay if I link to and talk about some of your stuff, on Facebook and my blog.

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