17 Apr Autism Is
What does autism mean to you? Autism is such a complex and multifaceted entity that it defies being captured in any concise, straightforward way. As I was contemplating my answer to this question, I realised just how many opposite extremes can be associated with autism. So I decided to craft a poem that plays on some of these opposing and sometimes conflicting traits. I don’t want to suggest that autistics experience only extremes. That would quickly get very exhausting (and it’s simply untrue). There is plenty of grey area, balance and middle ground too. Nevertheless, here is my take on the extremes of autism.
Hypersensitive / Sensory seeking
Straight forward / Unfathomable
Acute awareness / Unknowing blindness
Fitting and following / Forging your own path
Flying free / Locked in and out
A light-bulb moment / Lost in the dark
Unwavering dedication / Love found, love lost
A million thoughts / A blank mind
Running wild / Wrapped still and tight
Painfully shy / In your face
Obsessive order / Organised chaos
Attention to detail / Overwhelmed by options
Strict rigidity / Spontaneous fluidity
Big bear hugs / Do not touch!
A curious mind / Aversive to change
Intensely focused / Scatter-brained
Copying and blending / Standing up and out
Vivid imagination / What’s going to happen?
Unfiltered / Walls up
Constant processing / Imminent shutdown
Thirst for knowledge / Too much information
Feeling too much / Unknown feelings
Hair trigger emotions / meditative peace
I want to be heard / Too much exposure
Anxious and avoidant / Facing your fears
Seeing everything at once / One thing and nothing else
Black and white / A spectrum of colour
The other extreme,
And everything in-between.