Today is Autistics Speaking Day.

Today is Autistics Speaking Day. Folks have plenty of things to say. I’ve submitted my post from October — “Isolation, Loneliness, and the Angry Aspie” for ASD. Go over to the FB page to read/submit your experiences: https://www.facebook.com/AutisticsSpeakingDay

UPDATE: I also did write a poem for ASDay. I’ve been writing poems about Helen R. Jones, a black woman born in the early 1940’s who is likely autistic (but undiagnosed). She struggles socially, is more interested in books than in fashion, and can never meet up to the expectations of her mother, who is a socialite wannabe (on a steel mill worker’s salary, no less) in the Black community of Steelville, Ohio, where Helen is born and lives out her life. Helen’s mother pressured her to suppress her flapping habit as a little girl. Helen/Aanteekwa is a fictional construct, but I think speaking about her today gives a voice to what many of us went through as teenagers…that is, feeling as an outsider. Here’s the poem, “a bright light jolted Aanteekwa awake“.

 

 

Finding One’s Voice: Art, Autism, and Communication

…we
dip into this thing that we cannot
name except for the words
flowing from our pens and tongues.
— From my poem, “Samadhi”

So much of the dialog about autism focuses about how we as autistics cannot and do not communicate. I’ve noticed that the emphasis seems to be on our capability (or lack of) to communicate with speech, and I sense an underlying assumption that limits human communication to the realm of speech. Besides the distinction of high-functioning versus low-functioning (which I think are somewhat limiting concepts), verbal versus non-verbal serves as yet another division line between autistics. I feel that the emphasis on verbal communication in autistic people promotes a severely limited idea of how autistic people can and do communicate which does not allow for alternate methods.Loose Lips

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Autistics Speaking Day is November 1

Autistics Speaking Day is November 1. Check out the official blog: Autistic Speaking Day. They also have an FAQ and a list of participants for the 2011 event. If you’d like to participate, there is more information on the FAQ page.

You can also follow @AutisticsSpeak on Twitter.

If you’re not familiar with Autistics Speaking Day, then here is the post by Corina Becker at No Stereotypes Here that started it all.

And I will be participating both on this blog and at Raven’s Wing Poetry.

Speech (A Poem)

Listen carefully. Hold your ear to the page
and hear the speech of hushed silence, how words
can rip a page apart if they are not careful. These little
black crispations carry swords and scissors – you just don’t know it
yet, and you won’t until you wake up the next morning and find
a small continent of blood, soaking in as a pillow stain
where your ear was resting all night.

There is a nook in the neck of the k where it
creased a crick while searching for a kiss, or for the end
of a bottomless ocean – that singular syllable made out of German slang
that I am very fond of using. But I will spare you X-rated fricatives
and give you the nectar from the nook instead. There is
also the curled come-hither of the c that looped itself
through the a hole in one of my earlobes after it snuck out of
my brain, and an n that strives to know how to fashion
the curve of its front leg after the curve of my nose. Every letter
is an escape artist – they all existed
as pictures projected onto the thick drive-in theater screen
made out of bone that stands behind my eyes. Everything
gets filed under vision.

This is what happens when speech becomes futile. You see,
I have three mouths – one on my face, one below my belt, and the
last one existing in the center of my brain. It grows teeth
as the words come, busting through bloody gums that eventually
send speech down the nerves of my arms and into my fingertips. Magically,
the teeth turn into type, this hushed silence
that you are reading right now. My brain is wired

to be a picture bank, a sound disc dictionary
that spins as the track to a thirty-four year-long movie
that has not yet ended or sent to the cutting room floor. It was
wired for me by invisible Asperger fingers that snuck inside my mother’s womb
while cell and soul were being knit together. And it is
wired for sound to be received through your eyes. Listen carefully. Don’t
read my lips. You won’t find anything there today.

—————————————————
This poem was one of the two specifically written for Autistics Speaking Day. The other, “Back Door Blues“, is over at Raven’s Wing Poetry. There is a list of other poems I am sharing today here. And hats off to everyone participating in Autistics Speaking Day.

 -Nicole

Poetry for Autistics Speaking Day

As I mentioned in this post, I will be sharing poetry as my way of speaking on Autistics Speaking Day. I invite you to read the following poems today:

Thank you everyone who is taking the time to read these poems today. We autistics *do* speak and communicate in various different ways. Hats off to everyone who is participating today — I will see you around the interwebs. And if you are sharing poetry today too, please don’t hesitate to post links to your work! You can leave them in the comments.

-Nicole

Autistics Speaking Day Is Tomorrow

As you probably know, Autistics Speaking Day is tomorrow, November 1. Many of us on the spectrum have chosen this day to speak out instead of shut down, and The Coffee Klatch will be hosting a 24-Hour Chat on TweetChat tomorrow for Autistics Speaking Day. Also, other events and stuff may be happening too: feel free to check out the Autistics Speaking Day event page on Facebook for more info.

And I will be doing what I do best — poetry. I will be sharing some new poems I have written just for Autistics Speaking Day on here and Raven’s Wing Poetry, as well as sharing some other poems I’ve written in the past. I will post a list tomorrow of all of the poems here as well (so you don’t have to go a’diggin’) as well as Tweeting and posting on FB as much as possible. I look forward to joining everyone speaking out tomorrow in the Interwebs and Blogosphere and am honored to be part of such an event. Be LOUD and be PROUD on November 1!

-Nicole

This Is Why We Do What We Do

For those of you who have been following this blog or have been around the Interwebs, you probably know by now about Autistics Speaking Day (for those who don’t know, check out the link and my last post about this.)

I received a comment about this which I thought was especially thoughtful and articulate from an autistic gentleman who counsels adults on the spectrum. I especially loved the last half of his post and thought, “This is why we speak out. This is why we are self-advocates. This is why we do what we do.”

Please read the comment from Jim below:

“I wholelly agree. I have autism as a diagnosis (since my 6th). I’m also a councellor specialized in coaching of adults with autism and a normal to high intelligence.

In my communication with clients, the main issues they speak of are:
* sexuality and the wish to have intimate relations.
* communication, and the difficulties in verbal face 2 face communication with non autists.
* giving meaning to their lives.
* wanting to be treated as equal, worthy citizens.

Some clients prefer speaking back to back, some prefer internet chat or e-mail, some prefer text…… very few prefer face to face contact or telephone voice contact.

modern communication media have increased the communicative capacities of persons with autism. Unfortuneately, the internet has also become a gathering place of non autists who choose to give meaning to their lives by emphasizing how pitifull we are, and advocating a cure for us.

Don’t fix us, we aren’t broken.
Don’t pity us, we aren’t pitifull.
Don’t change us, accept us as we are.

Cherish us.
Challenge us.
And watch what we do.

Try to connect with us.
And follow our lead.
Because we will innovate.
Because we have to innovate.
Because we don’t understand the standard.
So we’ll make our own.”

And maybe one of us will be foolish enough.
To show the rest of you the way to the stars…….”

Bravo!

Also, please check out these other amazing posts and pages about Autistics Speaking Day:

And if you find any other awesome or thought-provoking posts about it, PLEASE don’t hesitate to share them in the comments.

-Nicole

Why Communication Shutdown Day Is a Bad Idea (And What You Can Do Instead)

listen carefully – this is Asperger’s talking
speaking in tongues ain’t easy
but I do not regret the wings that God gave me
just give me my damn feathers
and I will keep on singing

(from my poem, “Speaking in Tongues”)

I happened to come across this post over on the No Stereotypes Here blog in which the author, Corina Becker, discusses Communication Shutdown Day, an international effort scheduled for November 1 which attempts to raise money for participating autism-related charities.

The idea behind Communication Shutdown Day this year is to refrain from using social networks (such as Twitter and Facebook) that day. It is, in the words of one supporter, supposed to “mirror autistic silence” and “draw attention to the isolation and intense loneliness experienced by those who are impeded from connecting socially with others”. In short, it is supposed to create empathy for those on the spectrum as well as raise charity money.

And I think it’s a bad idea.

Hold on a minute, Nicole, you might be saying. This is helping raise awareness for autism. So what’s the problem?

Well, for one thing, it could reinforce an existing idea that autistics cannot communicate – and if you’ve been reading this blog, you know of at least one autistic person who can. I am not denying that we do have our communication difficulties, and that many individuals on the autism spectrum are non-verbal. HOWEVER, reinforcing the concept of our silence is just a bad idea and doesn’t really do much for us as autistic individuals. While this event claims to help create empathy for us, I can’t help but wonder how much of that is going to end up becoming pity instead.

And the last thing our community needs is more pity. Pity for us is based on the idea of “oh, poor things, they live such miserable lives – they need a cure”. Pity detracts from the real issues that confront us day by day, which include: equal treatment, opportunity, and access to needed services and accommodations in educational institutions and the workplace; dealing with the social landscape of whatever cultures we are in; encountering and finding solutions to problems unique to our population, such as sensory overload, emotional expression, and low frustration tolerance; building and maintaining a healthy self-esteem; ensuring that we are treated with care and respect by medical and mental health professionals; and navigating an uncertain world with a brain and nervous system that craves predictability. Pity also detracts from our strengths, such as: persistence and focus; unique thinking patterns and methods; honesty; narrow interests which can lead to expertise in a subject; and the potential for creative, scientific, and other forms of positive contribution to society.

Becker has proposed an alternative: Autistics Speaking Day. Instead of remaining silent and refraining from usage of the Internet and social networks, she proposes that we on the autism spectrum speak out. As she puts in in this post:

…on November 1st, Autistic people should speak up and be heard. That in the absence of NT voices, Autistics should reclaim the Autism community by communicating in our own ways on our life experiences.

And once I read about the idea, I found myself in natural agreement. So to help spread the word and promote Autistics Speaking Day, I will be tweeting about it, posting about it on Facebook, and other places. I also encourage those who agree with this idea and/or plan to participate on November 1 to SPREAD THE WORD. Tweet, blog, share on FB, etc. the HELL out of this mofo. Let OUR voices be heard that day. I’ll be tweeting that day and writing at least one poem as part of this effort.

If you do participate, please read her suggestions here (e.g. being mindful of subject matter that could trigger people and so forth). And SPREAD THE WORD! Thank you.

-Nicole