Dogs are amazing creatures. Their ability to adjust, accommodate and survive never ceases to intrigue me. Too often, despite trauma and abuse, dogs nevertheless seem able to rise to pulchritudinous grace, something which I long to be able to learn and adapt to my own fragile humanity.
Here is something I wrote this day three years ago, describing in words – though most inadequate – what sensory overload is like in the midst of trying to live and survive inside normative-dictated frameworks and prescriptions. There is sadly very little ‘clement space’ for the autistic entity inside this overwhelming overstimulating normative world – well, almost none at all.
Earlier this week, Sam Ahern and I were lucky enough to attend the National Autistic Society Women and Girls Conference 2018 to talk about Are You Autistic?, misconceptions about autism and our general realities as autistic women. More importantly, I got to meet dozens of brilliant autistic women and others in the autism community (and put faces to lots of usernames!), share stories and strategies, be part of a massive conversation online and offline, and learn so much more than I could have expected. Here’s an attempt to sum up some of my initial takeaways from the event:
Anxiety is a huge part of our lives – and it really doesn’t have to be
Emily Swiatek, employment training consultant at NAS, provides a simple but effective description of anxiety: “In our heads, a little lizard brain still thinks a T-Rex is coming to eat…
I posted this in my Official Facebook Page on Friday. It was a reflex reaction to having viewed two terribly humiliating and degrading videos of a young autistic child having a meltdown, recorded and uploaded to one of the many Autism Parenting Support groups in Facebook, by one of the many self-styled Autism Mom Guru types. Continue reading →
If you read only one thing this weekend, read this!
“The truth is that the current neurological hegemony practices daily micro-aggressions in which autistic people are not welcomed. They’re also barred from giving in the mainstream of life.
Some of us experience just enough welcome (important to acknowledge a relative privilege) and gain the tools with which to carve a niche. But too many don’t. Every human needs a baseline of welcome, and access to the power of giving.”
Sonia Boué – process image for a forthcoming performance piece.
I acknowledge my privilege – I am enabled to give in my art practice. How many autistics are excluded? Process image for a forthcoming performance piece.
Giving is getting.
Yes – I’m talking power dynamics and socially embedded disadvantage.
My thoughts flow from a series of encounters. Most notably a comment about ‘functional’ language in autism. Neuro-normative culture misinterprets autistic expression. It tends to frame what is considered ‘functional’ through the lens of its own (culturally dominant) social orientation.
Dominant cultures tend to make pathology of what they perceive as ‘other’. For example, not recognising language acquisition on its own (collecting and repeating words) as functional because it seems to serve no obvious ‘social’ purpose.
Neuro-normative hegemony has it that a child of a certain age ‘should’ talk about their day, their friends, and so on. Within this framework of understanding, building…
An old friend. Probably the only one left from that era of innocence. A little petite dinner. A small humble celebration. Love. No need for big glamorous party. I don’t want many many flittering fluttering bits flying around my sphere, making me nauseous and giddy. Happy with just one old friend, a takeaway meal, and two mini little cakes for dessert – to celebrate my very obscure arrival on earth.
Mini mini sweets
Love me, or leave me. Simple as that. Many have left, others have entered the clement spaces. New and old, a blended grace. And there is now Lucy Like-a-Charm. I am content.
I am listening to the gentle rise and fall of Lucy’s breath, her warm scent wrapping around me like a soft blanket of wellness – a song in itself so masterful in grace and pulchritude that it cannot be of human construction.
For some time now, I have been feeling a deep longing to return to music. A Facebook friend posted some guitar arrangements he did and listening to them brought me back to my own songs from a very distant time and place. Looking back, it was as if I was lost and meandering my way through like an Alice inside a dreamscape – a blend between Salvador Dali and Kandinsky, with the intermittent clarity of Paul Klee. Entrapped and enslaved by malevolent Other, music was my only pathway to salvation of Self.
I revisited these old songs on my SoundCloud page tonight, and Lucy doesn’t seem to mind at all. It feels like a strangely sweet layering, listening to these sounds and enunciations swirling above Lucy’s comforting breathing in and out, a rhythmic anchor that I did not have at the time, but was searching for. It took 12 years for me to find my way to Lucy. Now, I think I am slowly finding my way back to music again.
Colour, smell and clever arrangement make food more inviting, often enhancing the actual taste itself. Texture also plays a big part. Crunchiness can add a delightfully cheery dash to even the most ordinary of foods. Of course, the chemical transformations that occur when foods are cooked in certain ways and combined never cease to fascinate.
Food has become more an everyday indulgence than a lively challenge since returning to home ground. In many ways, I miss the latter days, though I have not ceased being grateful and appreciative for each morsel I imbibe. Perhaps the weather here – the humidity – makes everything taste less defined, and having such abundance has dampened the enthusiasm of discovery or provocation. I also cook a lot less than before, as cooked food is cheap and readily available here in Singapore, and my dear foodie-chef brother-in-law either takes us to new places on investigation missions, or he brings his expert professional culinary skills to our table at home.
I do still like to notice the little tiny interplay of colour, tonality, texture, smell and the way each component communicates with the other, like small musical pieces or miniature dances unfolding inside my bowls, plates and dishes. Cutlery interacting with these morsels form a personal and even intense connectivity and communication, sometimes intimate in isolation, and other times part of a larger conversation with the human sensory realm.
It’s Friday yet again. I do miss our weekend noshments in Paddington. There was an aura of preciousness and bonhomie that remains unique to that particular juxtaposition of company, time, place, space and situation – an what conversation! There can be no replication.
What do a black Greyhound, multi-art expression, and food have in common?
They are all close to this Autistic Bunny’s heart.
Autism advocacy. Disability advocacy. Trying to throw open the windows of tightly closed minds. Mistaken as threat. Tokenised and patronised. Writhing and spinning round and round, ploughing the miry fields of repetitive human social-political gyrations. Trudging through the cesspools of normativity. Wiping away the spit of jealous competition, meandering through lies and subterfuge. The burden of participation in humanity’s Theatre of Absurdity can wear the trembling soul down, and the spirit is too easily crushed and fragmented under pounding cacophony of noisome people-ing.