Poems

Through My Skin: Autism

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.

 

 

 

 

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Dear Whoever

Dear Non-Autistic People

Dear Non-Autistic People,

I am autistic with anxiety and used to suffer depression. I used to need an IEP, tutors, aides, accommodations, and occupational/speech therapies. But I’ve “grown” a little out of autism. Most people think I’m normal, if awkward.

The troubles aren’t over.

For some people who figure it out or know who/what I am, I applaud the ones who don’t make assumptions.

For all the millions of people in the world who don’t make assumptions and give us a chance, I applaud you.

For people who are ignorant, even out of innocence, I have some things to say.

  1. Not every single thing I do is an accomplishment. Making friends is hard but why is it surprising whenever I do have more than one close friend? Why is it such a shocker that I have even a summer job or part-time job? Is it really a huge accomplishment if I manage to have a conversation?
  2. People with disabilities CAN work. It might be harder if you’re lower-functioning but you can do something, even if it’s bagging groceries. And do NOT say bagging groceries isn’t a real job. Someone has to do it. Will you do it?
  3. Some people, even “normal” people, might prefer solitude. But autism does not automatically mean we hate people or love being alone. WE especially do not enjoy being friendless. If we’re aloof and want solitary time, it’s not because we hate the human race. Maybe you should respect space and me time more. Maybe you should try befriending someone without assuming they don’t want friends.
  4. What irritates me is when people assume all autists are geniuses. Autism is called a “spectrum” disorder for a reason! We are individuals and have different struggles and talents. Not every autist is a genius at math. I am most definitely not good a math. I have a learning disability regarding math. Stop assuming we can help you get an A on a test.
  5. Autism doesn’t always mean we are asexual or not interested in romance. Maybe some of us aren’t but that isn’t autism-related.
  6. Don’t automatically assume we have perfect memories and photographic memory. We can’t all memorize movie lines or recall every single word in a book.
  7. Not all of us hate being touched. I don’t mind it, as long as you don’t hug for too long or act like a pervert.
  8. Stop saying people with autism and disabilities “can’t amount to anything.” My sister heard a worker at the ARC say that once. NOT OKAY! Why would you work there or in that field if you feel that way? Hypocrisy. There are plenty of people without disabilities who don’t amount to much. Look at the mama’s boys and the trust fund kids. Look at slackers and junkies. Why are disabled people at the top of the list for “not amounting to much?”

So that is my letter to you. If you have a disability, maybe you can compose a letter of complaints you have to people who are neurotypical.

i.e. Neurotypical means “normal”

Social Justice

National and International News Regarding Strides in Autism

Autism Awareness Month ends today. I have high-functioning autism. There was a time I couldn’t talk to a person without panicking and feeling stupid. Sometimes I still feel insecure and worry about saying something dumb or looking dumb. Many people never thought I’d be able to have a job, internship, or go to college.

I’d like you all to read at least one of these links regarding autism news and legislation.
#autismawarenessmonth #autism #humanrights #autismnews

1. Kevin and Avonte’s Law
http://www.qchron.com/…/article_16d8d8e4-9639-5c62-96e2-517…

A law to protect and help find people with autism who wander off.

2. Autism in France
https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/f28b6620-38a6-11e8-af3c-21…

French government wants to improve its system for people with autism, especially children.

3. Sensory Sundays at Chuck E Cheese
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/…/fl-reg-chuck-e-cheese-offerin…

Check E Cheese is offering a special day once a month for children with autism to make them feel more comfortable.

4. Autism Software Program in Connecticut
https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/…/City-of-Groton-implementin…

This town in Connecticut wants to train police officers in identifying people with autism and how to handle them.

5.Balovaptan
https://www.cbsnews.com/…/new-autism-drug-balovaptan-could…/

An experimental drug that could help reduce symptoms of autism.

6. United Nations
https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/04/1006681

Women with autism want less gender disparities.

7. Sesame Street Theme Park
https://www.today.com/…/sesame-place-theme-park-first-certi…

Sesame is the first theme park to have autism certification.