My autism's a part of me,
But it is apart, you see.
Who are you?
With your ‘normal’ view.
Are you just one thing, or are you a person
With thoughts & feelings, that are your own unique version.
Preferences, ideas, talents, and dreams?
That are bound by senses that meet at their seams.
Are you fat, short sighted or visually impaired?
Are you ever wondering why I just stood and stared.
Those may be the things that I saw the first time I meet you,
But you’re more than just your ‘normal’ diagnosis…. True?
As an adult, you have control over how you’re defined.
Your normality means your perceptions are refined.
So why would you single out one characteristic of mine that you can make known.
As a child, I am still unfolding, I’m not fully grown.
Neither you nor I yet know of what I am capable.
If you think of me as just one thing, then one thing’s inescapable.
You run the danger of assuming I have no chance of achieving.
And my heightened senses know this, it’s only you you’re deceiving
For I am not endowed with any ordinary sense.
You need to know this before I commence.
You take for granted sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.
Never once realising that these things can be as painful as hell
My world often feels hostile, and makes me so fearful.
I may appear withdrawn or belligerent, whilst others are cheerful.
Or mean to you, or antagonistic,
Defending myself, then going ballistic.
You tell me we’re going on a trip to the shops
And out of the world my safety net instantly drops.
My hearing, you see, is hyper acute.
But I’m put in the car, though I loudly refute.
At the shops, walls of people jabber and whoop.
The loudspeaker booms and adds to the soup.
Music blares and lashes and whooshes.
Tills beep and cough, a coffee grinder swooshes.
The meat cutter screeches, a baby starts wailing,
I’m starting to malfunction and am rapidly flailing
As trolleys pass creaking, and fluorescent lights hum.
I’m starting to panic, but also turn numb.
My brain can’t filter the input, the voltage is massive
I’m in overload with no chance of staying passive.
My sense of smell is stratospheric.
That fish on the counter is NOT atmospheric.
The man in front hasn’t showered today,
That Stilton cheese – someone take it away!
A baby goes past, it’s ***** needs changing.
Things are going faster and turning deranging
They’re mopping up pickles on aisle two with some bleach and a rag.
My stomach is churning, and I’m starting to gag..
And there’s so much hitting my eyes!
This trip has turned into the world's worst surprise.
The fluorescent light
Is not only too bright,
it’s that flicker.
The space seems to be moving, getting quicker and quicker.
The pulsating light bounces off everything and distorts what I am seeing.
I don’t know what I’m doing, or saying, or being.
There are too many items for me to be able to focus.
The world starts to drain me of my internal locus.
My eyes try to compensate by tunnelling my vision
Fans on the ceiling, twist my senses into nuclear fission.
All this affects how I feel just standing there,
and I can’t even tell where my body is in space, do I care?
You’re yelling at me now, and shaking my shoulder
But the fiery fog is down and is starting to smoulder
It isn’t that I don’t want to hear your instruction.
I just can’t understand, due to mass self-destruction.
You're shouting now, but what does "£$%^&&% NOW! !£$%^&*" mean?
My senses will **** me in a collusion so obscene.
Once we’re back at the kids home, it all feels less absurd.
And now when you speak, I can hear every word.
Simple instructions, that I know off by heart.
And I cling onto these so I won’t fall apart.
You tell me what you want me to do next and I’m able to reply.
Now I’m happy and it’s easy for me to comply.
Now I’m OK and I’m running about
And performing my ritualised songs, which I shout.
Then a visitor grabs me saying, “Hold your horses, cowboy!” – This means danger!
I can’t stop the horses, I’m me, not the Lone Ranger!
And I’m thrown into panic when what you mean is, “Stop running.”
But I don’t know that! Those stampeding horses are coming!!
That’s my life, you see, it’s not “a piece of cake”
When there’s no dessert in sight and you’ve made a mistake.
When you say, “its pouring cats and dogs,” I see pets flooding from the sky.
Tell me, “It’s raining hard,” so I won’t fear the animals will die.
Puns, sarcasm and allusion
Simply generate confusion.
Tell me facts and keep things clear
So I can live, yet not in fear.
It’s hard for me to tell you what I need when my senses are reeling
When I don’t have a way to describe what I’m feeling.
I may be hungry, frustrated, frightened, or perplexed.
But I can’t find the words, and lash out, angry and vexed.
Be alert for my body language, or my gestures and obsessions
Then you’ll handle my feelings like your own treasured possessions.
Watch out for me compensating for not knowing the right word
By mimicking my favourite film star, or something just as absurd.
Rattling off words or whole scripts, which will leave you confounded
That I’ve memorised from Disney, because they make me feel grounded.
They may come from the TV, or speeches, or a book
And though they make people give a funny look
I just know that saying them gets me off the hook.
Show me, show me! I’m visual, you see.
And I’ll understand rather than you just telling me.
And be prepared to show countless times.
I’m listening, despite my ritualised rhymes.
Visual supports help me move through my day.
They relieve me of the stress and I feel OK.
I don’t have to remember what’s happening next
For I operate on a visual text.
This makes for smooth transitions in my life
And we’ll finally progress without anger or strife.
I need to see something to learn it, because spoken words are like steam to me;
They evaporate before my mind's eye, and are gone instantly,
Before I even have a chance to make sense of them,
They've died in the ether, leaving me in mayhem.
I don’t have instant-processing skills.
Instructions and information are my life giving pills
Images can stay in front of me for as long as I need,
and will be just the same in years, for they'll never recede.
Without visual help, I live the constant frustration
of knowing that I’m missing big blocks of information,
Not to mention falling short, by being a misfit
And I'm helpless to do anything about it.
Unlike other people, I'm unable to learn
If it's normal interaction for which you do yearn.
I’m constantly made to feel that I’m not good enough
And people are stern and people are tough.
They think I need taking in hand and need fixing.
Never knowing the world and my brain are tranfixing
I avoid trying any new things, for I'm sure I'll get 'dissed'
And another grown up will be angry and get 'real ******'.
But no matter how “constructive” you think you’re being.
Look for my strengths, though they're hard for the seeing.
There is more than one right way to do most things.
It may look like I don’t want to play with the other kids on the swings
But it may be that I simply do not know how to start
They just think I'm weird, and set me apart.
Teach me how to play with others.
Remove my autistic shrouded covers.
Encourage other children to invite me along.
They might learn something of value from my life's different song.
And rather than spend my day as separate, secluded.
I might show an ethereal delight at being included.
I do best in games that have a clear beginning and end.
Random play is something my fears won't transcend.
And just one other thing, a sort of confession
I cannot interpret a ****** expression
Or body language, or other peoples' emotion
So in group situations I'm resigned to demotion.
I want to learn, I want you to teach me.
Reach into my mind and help me to see.
If I laugh when Tommy falls off the climbing frame,
It’s that I don’t know what to say, nastiness isn't to blame
Talk to me about Tommy’s feelings and teach me to say,
“Are you hurt, Tommy, I'll get teacher, then you'll be okay?”
If you don't I'll meltdown or blow-up, and get in a stew
And this is a thousand times worse for me than for you.
For my mind will go into overload
My sense of equilibrium will start to off-road.
For I'm well past the limit of my social ability.
As those off road lights glare at my own disability.
If you can figure out why my meltdowns occur, they can be prevented
And my behaviours will abate, less frequently lamented.
Keep notes about me and a pattern may emerge.
As your understanding of me will gradually converge.
Remember that everything I do is a form of communication.
It tells you, when my words cannot, how I’m reacting to each situation.
My behavior may have a physical cause.
Think for a moment, just have a pause.
Food allergies and sleep problems can affect my behaviour.
Just look for signs, for you might be my Saviour.
Because I may not be able to tell you about these things.
That blunt my affect and cause my mood swings.
Throw away thoughts like, “If you would just—” and “Why can’t you—?”
You didn’t fulfill every expectation your parents had either, that's true.
And would you like to witness a constant rewind.
Of the traumatic deficits by which you're defined?
I didn’t choose to have autism.
Or to live with this division
Remember that it’s happening to me, not to you.
But without understanding, my chances remain few.
With love and support, my horizons are broader
But I can't live my life by other peoples order.
Patience. Patience. Patience, are the three words we need to live by
For my dreams to be reached, and my confidence fly.
View my autism as a different ability
Rather than as a freak show disability.
Look past what you may see as limitations and feel for my strength
I may not be good at eye contact or conversations of length
But have you noticed that I don’t lie, or cheat at a game
Or pass judgment on people, and make them to blame?
I rely on you, if you can make me your personal vocation
All that I might become won’t happen without you as my foundation.
Be my advocate, be my guide
Be my strength, stand at my side.
Love me for who I am, and not what you know
And we’ll see just how far I can go.
Matt Revans 2014