Our friend and award winning author David Mitchell joined us for a live Twitter Q&A session on Tuesday 11 July.

David Mitchell

David, who has a son on the autism spectrum, answered questions about his various acclaimed novels, his experiences, and thoughts on topical issues like education and public perception.

If you missed the Q&A, don’t worry. Below are all of the 17 questions and answers from the hour.

Thank you to David and everyone who participated.

Question from: @MsSAM_Tomlin

Do you and your wife feel your son is almost written off by most when they hear the word 'autism' ? #AskDavid

Answer: thanx Samantha. Maybe he is written off, but I'm too busy handling what needs to be handled to really notice other people's perceptions...  

Question from: @ABA4ALL_UK

#AskDavid my boy is autistic + severe learning disability. Has learned basic speech & typing, shld we equally value his simple, happy voice?

Answer: I sense from yr question that you already value his simple happy voice: I wouldn't dream of deterring you from doing so. I suppose we also have to remember he'll need to function as best he can in the world, and for that he'll need speech and typing. Different needs at different ages, for sure - but being valued bolters self-esteem like nothing else. You sound like a great parent already. Good luck!

Question from: @THewitt44

Do you think education establishments need to do more in order to help autistic young people fit in and succeed in their studies? #AskDavid

Answer: There's always room to do more I think, Thomas. But they only can do more if they have the resources to do so. This means money...

Question from: @LosTransport

Money is a problem. Spiky development is another for educational systems. Perhaps less focus on key stages would help? #AskDavid

Answer: I'd like resources to be focused on all key stages, John. I would like levels of support to be substantially higher across the board which means a poltical will to raise and allocate the money. We need a poltical voice.

Question from: @WonderGreene

My son has an IEP, but the teachers say they aren't trained to teach my autistic son even though he is high-functioning.

Answer: Training and education of teachers matters, but so do aptitude and character. I've met SNAs with little training but great understanding...

David Mitchell Q&A.

Question from: @jeffica

Hi David.What do you think the biggest challenge facing autistic people/their families in terms of public perception of autism is? #AskDavid

Answer: I think different people would give different and equally valid answer, based on the characteristics of the autism they are required to handle. In my case, because my son is non-verbal, I would like to challenge the assumption that behind speechlessness is nothing, or at least not a lot. I'd also consign the belief that people with autism don't experience emotions to the dustbin of wrongheadedness.

Question from: @robyn_steward

@Autism #askdavid has there been anything you have done differntly after reading the reason I jump and what impact has the change had

Answer: Hi Robyn! I hope you're well. JUMP encouraged me to raise my game as a dad in general, and expose my son to much more language in particular. I can't prove but I do feel this increased my son's vocab & encouraged him to use language more. The book also made me more aware of why my son's mood wld swing so abruptly, and how and why not to pour fuel on the fire of a meltdown.

Question from: @scarletp

What, in your opinion, is the best thing about having an autistic child? @david_mitchell #AskDavid

Answer: That's a lovely question, Scarlet. One of the best I've ever been asked about anything. My son has taught me about a permutation of the human mind I knew nothing about. To handle autism you *have* to become more patient and more understanding of others. His autism is a lens and prism I can sometimes look through. The view can be extraordinary.

Question from: @CarolPoveyNAS

#AskDavid what do you hope we will have learnt by the time your son is 40?

Answer: Another good Q. What autism is, why autism appears, and how we can help people to live with it more easily. A modest enough shopping list?

Question from: @aspie_ranto

Hi #ASKDavid @autism can you see a role for autistic adults like me to help the younger generation?

Answer: Dear (brilliantly named) Aspie Ranto: yes. Share your experiences. Save kids from reinventing wheels you've already invented. Write!

Question from: @DaggieYT

I'm an Autistic YouTuber myself; do you have any other relatives who too is on the Autism Spectrum?

Answer: Good for u Daggie, I'll watch yr videos when I have the chance. My brother-in-law in Japan is on the spectrum. A late and recent diagnosis.

Question from: @Sullivan27

Hi David, Naoki is older in the new book - how much has he changed? #AskDavid

Answer: He's come on a LOT. His Japanese is more adult. His analysis is broader. His experience has deepened. He thinks more lucidly about a wider range of topics. I find his growth extremely hopeful. If you get the chance to read SEVEN-EIGHT, I think you'll see what I mean.

Question from: @mxrtharose

@Autism #AskDavid David you seem like a gr8 guy & ive enjoyed your articles but how do you think we can give a better platform to autistic people themselves? I'm autistic myself & it gets frustrating to repeatedly see our main advocacy coming from parents, staff etc when we are here & many of us are competent & articulate writers & speakers ourselves (yr pieces have been by far the best & most sensitive I have read by parents & this Q is entirely good natured & out of genuine interest!)

Answer: Thank you Magic. I have no magic wand, but I suggest: write; film; vlog; mobilise; form a group, meet local politicians (some *do* care) brilliant material to fit into my paper/website today.' I believe there is always a demand for excellence and vote accordingly; make art; talk. Good luck. Thanx for yr good-naturedly and genuinely interesting Q.

David Mitchell Q&A.

Question from @NAS_ANNA_

@Autism what is your favourite ever portrayal of an autistic person and why? TV, films or literature #ASKDavid

Answer: There just aren't that many, Anna - which is a point worth making in itself. Narrative fiction is a great Trojan horse you can use to influence the public narrative on a given topic. THE CURIOUS INCIDENT is an obvious example that I thought worked very well as a novel.

Question from: @jo_bennie

#AskDavid @david_mitchell how has your son's autism affected your (imho frankly brilliant) writing?

Answer: Bless you Jo. I hope it has nourished my curiosity about the human mind, and sharpened my awareness of how what's outside does not necessarily indicate what's inside.

Email Question:

In The Reason I Jump, the description of why water is so essential is profoundly beautiful and really gave me an insight into my son. Which parts of the book resonated most with you and his son?

Answer: Different parts for different reasons in different moods on different days or different times of my life. However, what often comes to mind is where Naoki says the worst thing about having autism is feeling like a source of grief for others. I think about that a lot.

Facebook Question:

Hi David, my daughter was diagnosed quite young, before she was three. Four years on, there's been some progress, but we still do not have a prognosis of what her level of ability (and support needed) may be as a teenager and a young adult. I wondered how old your son is and what's your experience been of managing those uncertainties/ adapting to a changing landscape? Thank you.

Answer: Hi Eva. My son's autism has weaned me off the need to know ahead of time what the landscape will look like when I get there. If God laughs at our plans, autism splits its sides laughing. What the future will look like for our kids is not a thing we can fruitfully worry about. I try to save my worrying for things I can actually inlfuence. Our son's 11 now, and I don't know how things will be for him when he's 13, let alone 18. So I suppose I don't really manage the uncertainties: I just accept they'll always be with us. I'm less stressed this way. Good luck. You sound like a great mum. David

David’s new book Fall Down 7, Get Up 8 is out now.

Did you catch our Q&A with our ambassador Laura James last month? You can find it here.