Autism Awareness week kicks off this Friday, and I’ve got some exciting stuff planned. During the week itself I’ll be updating my blog every day, sharing poems that I feel offer unique insight into what it’s like living with autism, and how we communicate. The majority of what I’m sharing was written by people on the spectrum (three of the poems are by me), but I’ll also be including poems by neurotypicals writers, as it’s just as important to understand the neurotypical perspective on autism as it is to challenge it. (My blog name, Seeing Double, was inspired by this need to understand two very different perspectives). Poetry is my favourite medium of communication. It provides a platform for expressing my inner most thoughts, challenging the opinions of others and creating something beautiful.
Don’t forget there are still copies of The Poetry of Autism available on Etsy.
You can buy it as a physical book:
Or as an audio CD:
I’ve got two performances coming up. One for the young members of Woodcraft Folk, and one for a local writers group called Beehive Poets. I’m also planning my first poetry workshop. The one frustrating thing about these events is they leave me with far less time to sit and write.
After autism awareness week it’s back to the normal articles. I’ve taken a slightly more academic approach with my next piece, including some of Temple Grandin and Simon Baron-Cohen’s theories on autism, and how I approach these theories as an individual on the spectrum.
I recently read The Way I See It by Temple Grandin, which I would recommend to anyone with an interest in autism- particularly the parents of autistic children, as it contains lots of useful strategies for early intervention. Towards the end of the book Grandin suggests that young people today are becoming too obsessed with autism, allowing their diagnosis to become their whole identity. I wonder if this is something I’m guilty of.
In the past two years I’ve become more and more interested in autism. But I think that’s A) because I’ve just come to terms with my diagnosis and B) because I have two part time jobs in autism awareness and caring for people on the spectrum. I opted for a job in autism awareness because I knew I’d be working with people who are familiar with my disability and able to provide the right support for it. Sadly, most conventional nine to five jobs just don’t contain the appropriate support system for employees with autism, and some interviewers are prepared to use autistic behaviour (such as flapping or avoiding eye contact) as a sign the person their interviewing is not up to the job. I know many adults with Asperger’s Syndrome that have faced long term unemployment because of this.
It was inevitable that I’d write poetry exploring autism and the problems associated with it, because I’ve lived through these problems. However, I did make a conscious choice to write disability and mental health orientated poetry because that creates a selling point. It’s much easier to secure funding and sell my work if I can promote it as a tool for social change. It’s probably very unartistic and capitalist of me to write poetry based on a selling point. But poets need to earn their daily bread too.
See you Friday for Autism Awareness Week