Here’s the fourth poem I selected for autism awareness week. At the time it was written, the author was a child with severe Kanners autism and phenomenal intelligence.”Poem One” offers insight into Kanners autism that you won’t find anywhere else. I am very glad I came across it.
Men and women are puzzled by everything I do
Doctors use different terminologies to describe me
I just wonder
The thoughts are bigger than I can express
Every move that I make shows how trapped I feel
Under the continuous flow of happenings
The effect of a cause becomes the cause of another
And I wonder
I think about the times when I change the environment
With the help of my imagination
I can go places that do not exist
And they are like beautiful dreams.
But it is a world full of improbabilities
Racing towards uncertainty.
“Poem One” is by Tito Rajarshi Maukhopadhyaya and can be found in The Mind Tree, which you can purchase through Amazon:
I would recommend The Mind Tree to anyone with an interest in Kanners/classical autism. Despite being non-verbal, Tito expresses himself very eloquently through the written world, shattering the common belief that non-verbal autistics have little cognitive ability and no imagination. He started working on the book when he was just eight years old and is very self aware, meaning Tito can offer unique insights into growing up with non-verbal autism. I chose this poem because I could relate to the theme of being an outsider. I love the lines ‘every move I make/shows how trapped I feel/under this continuous flow of happenings’. I believe the ‘trapped’ feeling Tito refers to is a state of sensory overload caused by an unpredictable, chaotic world. As he is none verbal, he is only able to express this distress through his behaviour ‘every move I make shows…’. When working with non-verbal children I often take on the role of a detective, trying to interpret this confusing behaviour and get to the source of their distress. As Tito highlights in the first stanza, most people just stare when they see a child rocking, flapping, screaming or injuring themselves. They believe it doesn’t matter, that the child they are looking at is too deranged to notice. Tito clearly knows that people stare, probably causing him to feel rejected, dehumanised and ostracised. I am able to guess this, because it’s exactly how I feel when people stare at me and are ‘puzzled by everything I do’. We should not be staring. We should be trying to understand.