embrace

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Change can and does happen. Hope is not always just a frilly fantasy. Sometimes, even after one has given up and walked away, change unfolds.

Many years ago, I walked away from a connection with an ‘autism mom’. She wasn’t the typical, aggressive mom-crusader that you see in online mom-forums. She was always private about her woes, but nevertheless, at the time, so full of her own grief and struggle that she was unwilling to hear whatever I had to say.

Our paths crossed again recently. Her autistic son is an adult now. The struggles have been fierce, tumultuous, and the future is still shaky and uncertain. Yet, I see an acceptance, and embracing of her child, and a fierce loyalty and determination to support him, that I never saw before. Continue reading

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teamwork

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It isn’t true that autistic people do not know how to work in a team. We just need clear instructions about what is expected of us, and consistency in interactions. The autistic person is just as willing as any other to perform as a team, it’s just that the autistic mind functions somewhat differently, so better understanding all round is necessary.

Today, I was reminded again how amazing the people I work with really are. Continue reading

building clement space

Work in progress…

It’s been more than a week battling this cold and cough. My voice is all but gone. I sound like a constipated frog (do frogs really constipate?). Been through the dramatic works, the wailing, flailing, fainting and vomiting stuff etc, and now finally on the mend. Still coughing alarmingly – feels like the guts are all going to spurt out at some point or other – and noticing some pretty aghast looks being thrown my way, through the tears in my eyes while attempting to blow my nose. Too much multitasking, being sick is unpleasant for anyone, but being sick with hypersensitivity cranks up the ‘horrid’ volume manifold levels … and over and over. I am missing my Lucy. A lot. Clement Space was inspired by Lucy.

Nevertheless… I have been building clement space… in little ways, struggling valiantly, and in the more ‘official’ manifestation, of course, the exhibition. The show must go on, and so it shall! Continue reading

clement space in the city

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I spent the last few nights and days in this sofa, positioned right next to the loo. For safety, because I nearly fell down the winding stairs connecting to the loft bed. And for convenience, in case I had to throw up. A good thing I am short, but still, I have not laid down properly in a bed, stretched out, for this entire time. Continue reading

amplified senses

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What happens when an autistic person with hyper senses becomes unwell / sick? Do those hyper sensory antennae suddenly shrink to ‘normal’? Nope. They are amplified still, as ever, if not even more so. The pain is compounded, and searing terror all the more gripping.

Staring into my delicious bowl of hot potato and leek soup this morning at the Arthouse Kitchen, after an entire night spent retching into the loo, I felt a sense of relief – just simply because I was no longer trapped inside the swirling sphere of excruciating agony. Last night, it was as if time had snapped its back and was lying on the ground in a crumpled heap, sneering at me each time I convulsed, perspiring profusely like a tap at full blast. Not a pretty sight. Not one I’m happy to allow any to witness, so another episode came and went, with only the cosmos as voyeur, and my paltry words to record. I don’t want or need anyone to hold my hand during the ordeal, no thank you, it adds to the distress, really. Yet, being all alone in the cold, stark artist’s studio while teetering on the brink of physical and mental breakdown, was admittedly most frightening.

I couldn’t swallow more than 6 spoons of the goop, no matter how tasty. The throat is inflamed from all the coughing and sputtering. Sorry, Massimo. Please don’t take it as an insult to your culinary offering.

It was a comfort to sit in an old favourite and familiar space. Though with a sad twitching tingling feeling, because that was one of ‘our’ places to be – Lucy and me.

Takeaway: Autistic hyper senses = amplified horror and pain when unwell. Spare a thought for us, we’re not being dramatic. In fact, we prefer to hide inside our excruciating terror. But being nearby and knowing that you are somewhere does help a bit, if only to call an ambulance if needed.

more lessons with Lucy

We are almost there. It has been a flurry… a dizzy tizzy tipsy trippy scary one… anxiety hitting the roof and splotching everywhere now… getting ready for… The BIG Anxiety festival!

Preparing the final bits to go… and still learning about Clement Space from Lucy Like-a-Charm.

See you all there in Sydney!

accommodating Self

 

Yesterday afternoon, a friend took me to a little nooky cafe, tucked inside an industrial estate. A former hardware shop, the entrance decorated with eclectic vintage clutter served as a thematic introduction to the atmosphere within. As soon as we pushed open the creaky door, I felt a draft of musty, humid, cool air blow directly into my face, then wrap around me like a nebulous mouldy snake. My skin tingled, as my olfactory senses picked up the various miasmic odours emanating from each visually charming piece of history on display.

The waiter ushered us towards the back. Slipping within a split second into a bubble of wordlessness, I followed obediently, semi-somnambulant, my sensory system already engaged in a (routine) contrapuntal wrestling match with the onslaught of smells, sights, and sounds. As we were about to sit down at the allocated table, speech suddenly returned, and words fell out of my mouth like marbles, tumbling down and bouncing sharply against the concrete floor.

“I don’t want to sit here, it smells funny. I don’t like the smell here.”

Continue reading

Lucy creates clement space

Photograph description: Lucy Like-a-Charm creates Clement Space wherever she goes. The above three photos show how she appropriates her Bichon-poodle cousin, Bizcuit’s, bed, which is a tad too small to contain her massive Greyhound body. In the first photo, she tries to pour into the bed, but her Greyhound butt falls off the edge. In the second photo, she lays her head down, she decides that she is content, and settles down for a snooze. The third photo shows Lucy sleeping, butt on floor, legs and head on the bed.

Lucy is a major influence on my concept of Clement Space, especially the idea that we can create mental and physical spaces of grace wherever we may be. Momentary respite. A place in which to repair and replenish sensory equilibrium.

Sometimes, to the casual observer, it may look awkward, seem uncomfortable even, or appear bizarre. However, Clement Space is ours, it is intimate, and we should feel safe to own it.

clemency

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Sometimes, Clement Space can exist inside inclemency.

I recently spent 3 days and 2 nights at a holiday chalet with immediate and extended family. A grand spectacle of non-stop sensory overload. Unceasing noise. Human chatter at booming, roaring, shrieking, penetrating volume. Clattering of mahjong tiles into the wee, wee, wee-est hours. Thick, choking smells from the barbecue, food being cooked all day, cigarettes (smokers were very considerate, they only smoked outside, but my olfactory receptors picked this up too), and burning mosquito coils.

Oh, yes, and food. An over abundance of food. So much that it became overwhelming, even for a Foodie Bunny. Continue reading

creating clement space

 

As the BIG Anxiety festival draws ever nearer, I am plunged into a flurry of making, musing, more making and more musing. While crafting the installations for Clement Space in the City, contemplating the concept itself, and trying to find spaces of clemency along the way, an old song of mine wove its way into my consciousness.

The road is long and the dark night is lonely“… A line from one of my songs, “To Touch the Edge” written and recorded 1998/1999. I did not realise it at the time, but it was a plea to find Clement Space: a place – mental and/or physical – where mind, soul and body may dwell, even for a few brief moments, without threat or assault to intrinsic Beingness. (Click on title of song to access on SoundCloud.)

Days are now filled with the sensory textures of netting, organza, cotton, linen, yarn, thread, pinpricks on fingers, and the whirring gargling rattling of my mother’s trusty old Singer sewing machine. Continue reading