It’s day five of autism awareness week, and that means I’m sharing another poem about what it’s like to live with autism. “This One” was written by a poet with a diagnosis of autism. It’s very different to the poems I’ve shared in previous blog posts in terms of it’s unusual structure and sparse, simplistic language. But that’s what attracted me to it in the first place.

This One

This one’s a

Bit player

Peripheral

Or

Tangential to

This one’s

A leaner

Not in

Not out

This one’s

Unfocused

Blurred, less

Decipherable

This one’s

In need of

A swift kick

Some spittal

And finally

Gratitude

As this one

Pulls focus

Away

The others

Breathe easier

Not me

Not us

This poem is by David Seth Smith and can be found in Uncommon Minds: A Collection of Poetry and Prose Created by Individuals with Autism. You can purchase Uncommon Minds here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Uncommon-Minds-collection-created-individuals/dp/1494861461/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1427817159&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=uncommon+minds

What I really like about “This One” is the unusual way it’s structured. Arranging the poem in a narrow column with many line breaks creates a feeling of unease and forces the reader to process information in a manner they are unaccustomed/unsuited to, something people with autism experience on a day to basis. “This One” also deals with issues like isolation and bullying. Everyone can relate to feeling different, particularly people with autism, who are much more likely to experience bullying on a regular basis.Smith presents the issue of bullying in a gritty, factual manner. When I read “This One” I did not once feel like Smith was trying to elicit sympathy from the readers. In my opinion far too my writers try to elicit sympathy when dealing with the subject of autism, which only distracts the reader from the real issues. The sparse language and unusual structure acts as an almost Brechtian alienation technique, preventing the reader from empathising with the characters in the poem. In most cases empathy is a good thing. In this case, it is both refreshing and helpful to view things as they really are. The lines ‘gratitude as this one pulls focus’ really spoke to me about the nature of bullying. We ostracise certain members of society in order to distract people from our own differences, and prevent ourselves from becoming the next target. Until this universal fear of rejection is dealt with bullying will always be a problem for people on the autism spectrum.

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