Aspie Obliviousness: A Good Thing?

Head in the Clouds by Wings of Dust
Head in the Clouds by Wings of Dust

How many times have you been told that you don’t pay attention enough, aren’t aware enough of your surroundings, or even worse, that you have your “head in the clouds” all the time? I heard this quite often, especially as a teenager and coming from my absolutely favorite aunt (NOT!). If you remember my post from a while back that talked about EMSs (early maladaptive schemas) and negative core beliefs, you’ll remember that sometimes we form these beliefs based on negative feedback from significant figures in our childhood – parents, relatives (well-meaning or not) and the like. So as a result of her negative comments, I developed a sort of hypervigilance which basically required me to pay attention to everything in my environment. Literally.

You can imagine that for someone on the autism spectrum, this would be downright tiring. And it was. I was constantly scanning my environment for details, dangers, etc., especially when I would move from one environment to the next. It would take me a while to get comfortable when I arrived into a new room, got out of the car and went into the house, and so forth (you don’t want to even know how taxing it is to try to notice EVERYTHING – including passing scenery – when you’re in a moving vehicle as a passenger). When I was in my early twenties, I dispensed of this habit: unfortunately, some events in my mid-twenties reactivated a healthy (again, NOT!) dose of post-traumatic stress disorder that I had mostly gotten rid of with help from my fiancé – the same PTSD I’ve mentioned that I am battling right now. And with the PTSD came the hypervigilance and the environment scanning. The only good thing that has resulted from this is my tendency to store visual details, which I can access later for my writing.

I recognized near the end of last week that this practice was downright exhausting and no longer worth my time, so I decided to stop completely. I decided that I was only going to pay attention to what was important, or what caught my notice. And couple of days later, this new approach paid off. Continue reading

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“Of Spice, Epicureanism, and Masochism” Republished at Shift Journal

Hey folks!

My most recent post, “Of Spice, Epicureanism, and Masochism” was republished over at Shift Journal on Thursday. Woohoo!

So, go check it out. 🙂 And while you’re at it, check out the rest of Shift Journal as well. You’ll find some readworthy contributions from folks on the spectrum exploring what an autistic existence means as well as it being a “legitimate way to be in the world”, according to the website.

-Nicole

Why Me? More About Workplace Bullying, Office Gossip, and the Autistic Employee

First off, I want to thank my readers for being patient with me during my hiatus from the WWA blog due to illness and other personal issues. Rest assured, readers, I am back and here to stay. On that note, I’d like to pick up where I left off with this series on workplace bullying and the autistic employee.

Last time, I discussed the basics of workplace bullying: what it is, why bullies do what they do, and the effects that bullying has on employees. This time I’ll be talking about how bullies select their targets, why they may target autistic individuals, and the role that office gossip can play in both bullying campaigns and the everyday work life of an autistic employee. Continue reading

Putting the Awe in Autism: My Poem on TV and Other Thoughts

Note: this post is modified from a post which originally appeared on Raven’s Wing Poetry.

First, an announcement: an excerpt of the video of my poem, “You Don’t See It”, was featured in a Long Island TV FIOS segment about Awe In Autism.

The segment has been posted on MyLITV’s website in two videos. Part 1 features Awe In Autism, its founders (Deborah French and Kim Covell), and some of the work featured on the site, include the excerpt of my poem. Part 2 features “for dylan”, a song and music video which the founders call “the song behind the Awe in Autism” project.

In and amongst this bit of news and self-promotion, I feel the need to express a couple of things. First of all, if I haven’t said it before, my thanks and gratitude go to Awe in Autism for giving the opportunity for my poetry, namely “You Don’t See It”, to be featured on their site. AWE has given many autistic artists, musicians, poets, and others an opportunity to have their work seen, heard, and accessed. Also, as Kim Covell states in the first video, artists with autism often have a harder time self-promoting, and while I’ve gotten used to it thanks to the Internet, I must say I still find the task daunting sometimes. I am grateful for the opportunity for my work to reach a wider audience and go beyond this blog thanks to AWE.

Secondly, as I have said before, “You Don’t See It” is probably my best statement and expression to the world of what having Aspergers/being autistic is like. The experience of self-discovery and acceptance has been joyful and at times painful and overwhelming — but probably the most significant thing I could say is that is has been enlightening. And through it all, the craft of writing and poetry have been a conduit and a means for this journey.

Writing is my native language. I am much, much better at the written word than I am at oral communication: there are times that my tongue fails, but praise God my pen does not. This is part of my reality as an autistic person, and is true for many others. The poetry helps me say what sometimes my lips cannot. I hope I have given you, the readers of WWA, at least a glimpse or a peek at what that reality — and my reality as a whole — is. I also hope that through the writings on this blog, both prose and poetry, that I have reached you, moved you, connected with you, made you think, and most of all, made you feel.

Finally, please consider not only watching the videos of the segment but visiting Awe in Autism to see the vast, wonderful spectrum of art by creative and talented autistic individuals. I can promise you that you will not be disappointed, but amazed at the breadth of expression the site has to offer.

Saludos,

Nicole

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

Thank You, ANCA

Last night was the 2010 Inaugural International Naturally Autistic Awards ceremony, held in Vancouver, British Columbia. This was the first time that the ANCA Foundation had opened up its Naturally Autistic event to those outside of Canada, hence why it was an inaugural event. And ANCA, its supporters, and the award recipients made history last night.

The honorees at last night’s ceremony, both in the adult and child categories, did the Autistic Community PROUD. With autism, the focus has oftentimes been on our limitations, and this has sometimes given rise to assumptions and myths that we cannot create artistic works of value. The winners of this year’s awards stand as a testament that those assumptions and myths are wrong.

Here is the list of last night’s winners, courtesy of Blog Talk Radio show host Scott Jackson:

  • Adult Visual Painting Arts: Maria lliou, Long Island, New York, USA
  • International Literary Award: Nicole Nicholson, Columbus, Ohio USA
  •  Performing Arts: Scott Siegel, California, USA
  • (Children) Performing Arts Award: Gina Marie Incandela, Florida, USA
  • Judge’s Award, Performing Arts & Visual Arts Awards: Kristie Dix, Australia
  • Judge’s Award, Performing Arts Award: Michael van Houten, B.C., Canada
  • Arts Award: Dani Bowan, California, USA
  • Award in Theatre: Tammy Australia
  • Mentor Award: Tim Mueller of Autism Rocks in Eugene, Oregon, USA
  • Achievement Award: Joel Anderson, California , USA
  • Community Leadership International Award: Debbie Mkye, Queensland, Australia

Yes, you read the list right – I won an award in the Adult International Literary category, for a collection of poems that I submitted in mid-July to the foundation entitled “Novena”.

I am honored and happy to be among such talented, professional, and exceptional individuals as the above honorees at last night’s awards. Unfortunately, my fiance and I were unable to attend the ceremony – however, at the request of ANCA founders Leonora Gregory-Collura and Charlie Collura I sent in a pre-recorded acceptance speech as well as a pre-recorded reading of a poem from the collection, “You Don’t See It”. Both videos were played during last night’s ceremony; they are embedded into this post below.

 

(You can read the original poem on this blog or Raven’s Wing Poetry.)

I also had the privilege to call into Ralph Watley’s KXBG show on Blog Talk Radio last night and speak to callers, Leonora, and the other award recipients and attendees of yesterday’s event remotely from my home: you can listen to the archived broadcast here. I was flabbergasted, honored, humbled, and touched by a lot of the responses I heard to my work – at one point, I was told that the video of “You Don’t See It” which was played at the ceremony moved people to tears, and Kelly Green of AutismHWY mentioned that my poems helped her understand what was going on in the mind of her own son, who is also autistic. This was probably one of the first times in my life that I really understood how poetry can reach people, and that I really felt that my work moved listeners. And for that, I feel truly happy and blessed.

Thank you’s go to Leonora, Charlie, and the rest of the ANCA Foundation for such a historic event and opportunity to recognize artistic talent of both adults and children on the autism spectrum. Also, Kelly Green and AutismHWY were instrumental in getting the word out about the awards, both during the art submission period (which is how I found out about them) and promoting and publicizing last night’s ceremony. Last night’s event was truly historic and significant, and I am honored to have been a part of it as an award recipient. Continued blessings to ANCA and all of its friends and supporters, as well as my fellow award winners. This upcoming year looks to be truly promising.

Saludos,

Nicole

P.S. You can read last night’s program as a Uniflip document.

ANCA 2010 Naturally Autistic Awards

We are less than a week away from the 2010 ANCA Naturally Autistic Awards. The awards ceremony is set to take place in Vancouver, BC on Saturday, October 30.

ANCA has been in existence since 1995 and its mission is to ” support the natural development of autistic people by providing education and training to autistic individuals, their families, and the community at large.” They have been holding the yearly Naturally Autistic Event in Vancouver, which celebrate artistic talent in autistic children and adults — but this is the FIRST year that ANCA has opened up awards and participation to artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians outside the Canada. In addition to Canadian awards winners, this year’s ceremonies will feature artists from the United States and Austrailia.

The program of that afternoon’s ceremonies can be viewed at http://flipflashpages.uniflip.com/2/34838/73200/pub/index.html or via PDF at http://www.naturallyautistic.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/NA-Program-final.pdf.

Tickets are still available for this event at: http://naturallyautistic.eventbrite.com/?ref=ebtn

Please watch this blog for more developements or check out ANCA’s Facebook Page. Also, check out this note on AutismHWY’s Facebook page discussing and supporting the upcoming awards.

-Nicole