For many years she was a fixture on Flemish television, but a few years ago she retrained as a children’s and youth coach. A decision made by his autistic son Billy Toulouse. The pair joined “The Table of Four”, giving insight into the way Billy processes information.
Barely 19 years old, but Billy Toulouse Westrin has already ridden a bumpy track. The young man was diagnosed with autism at the age of six and spent a long time looking for a way to deal with it. The son of actress Anne Servils, 54, found this outlet in music from the age of eight. His first album – “Thoughts from Autism” – will be released on Sunday, on World Autism Day (April 2, ed.). “An exciting moment,” said the young artist. “Now my business is still my business, but then it belongs in the world.”
“It’s very touching for me,” he continues. “It’s a day when I come in. I see he’s a monster in me that I have to learn to deal with. I have him under control that I can make beautiful music. My music helps channel my annoyances. Then I worry about him in bed, and write a script about him. The love break, for example. These are the feelings that come up, sometimes it’s just too many – but I can handle one tracks to convey. If I didn’t have it, I’d probably be dead or do something to crime. But I don’t want to do that to my mom either.”
During the conversation, Anne also reflected on a difficult childhood moment for her son. It appears that “Billy grew up partly in Antwerp”. “When I put him to bed, I always told him to ‘go to his tram.’ He really thought he was going to go away, and he cried. He was so scared he couldn’t tell me until later. Because he was going by car with that bed, because it was a tram. There’s a kind of Logic in it. We’ve been taught that, how unconsciously we deal with language. Or how vague. ‘Yes yes, please’, for example. That’s very abstract.”
“It was such a relief for us to know the diagnosis,” Ann says. “At the age of six he was a happy, blond boy, completely obsessed with SpongeBob. My husband and I said something that wasn’t true, that we weren’t taken for granted. Most people really believed that we were, that we saw things that weren’t. But they didn’t see him around the clock. All days of the week. So yeah, the diagnosis came as a relief in a way. Now we know why our son sometimes reacted differently in social situations.”
“The hardest thing about growing up with autism is not knowing what it is,” Billy Toulouse adds. “As a kid you think it’s a disease and it will pass. But then you see things change. The kids found it hard to play with me because I thought differently.”
“The Table of Four”, Monday-Thursday at 8pm on Play4.
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