Sometimes I write poetry. This one is an attempt to explain why touch is central to autism spectrum disorder, why it matters so much to us.
Why are obsessed with, repulsed by touch?
Imagine the senses heightened up
turned up like the volume on a radio
some things are numbed, some unbearable.
Bite of winter is harsher to me
as are the clothes I need for protection
the clothes all too heavy, too claustrophobic
taking up too much space on and around me.
Certain spots like lips become tougher, numb
thanks to my strong, healthy teeth
that chew on my lips like a dog on a toy
to try chewing the fear, the nerves away.
Soundtrack of the world pleasant or horrid
sounds I can control like the TV are good, rewound
but shrieks and chatter of other people
drown me and make me want to lose my hearing.
My skin itself is fascinating, an enigma
it’s so soft, so how can it protect me from pain?
I stare at the hairs, freckles, rivers of veins
explore by pinching, biting, licking, touching.
The skin of others are unpredictable
I don’t wear their skin, don’t know what hands intend
thus why I hate their skin on my skin
at least unwarranted and without asking.
It feels somewhat weird, softness against softness
hundreds of hairs on my and their bodies touching
body heat exchanged like currency
how can they not be intimidated by the invasion?
I don’t like to talk, sometimes can’t find the words
afraid I will sound stupid, disappoint another
fingers and skin never fail, neither does pointing
gestures and actions easier than pronouncing, enunciating.
Skin is what protects my inner world
helps me tuck into a ball, rock back and forth
when I’m scared, angry, or sad
squeezing my legs or myself releases the nerves a little.
My thoughts and feelings lie beneath the skin
my imagination is my safety, my heaven
while the physical world is hellish
my skin is the border between the worlds.
I can choose to allow thoughts to become actions
rise up through the skin like vapor
solidify and become visible to everyone else
or I can choose to let them stay in me.
Control is something I am not very good at
thus the tantrums or the lack of motion as if I’m frozen
I control my thoughts and my body motions
nobody else can, thus why they are fearful, angry.