autism, Education, Poetry

Hey ASD (Spoken Word Poem)

There’s something theatrically sardonic about blasting Vivaldi’s Winter out your car speakers when it’s a blistering 35C outside and you’re sitting in a Pak’n’Save carpark trying not to have a meltdown xo

I was relegated to the car because the supermarket music was stressing me out. I forgot my noise-cancelling headphones in the car.

There’s also something unequivocally right about dating another autistic woman. She just gets it. Literally, because she also has the experiences, sensations and difficulties that I do. They can present differently, but we know what each other needs because we’ve both been there.

My girlfriend has this thing where she needs me to turn the aircon on before she can get in the car when it’s as hot as it has been this summer. Sometimes I forget, and I just look at her, dumbfounded – as in what are you doing out there, get in bruh. We always get there, eventually.

I don’t know what it is about music and sensory overload, but the wrong stuff is painful, and the right stuff is exactly what you need to release the tension. Often, for me that’s “classical” (a.k.a. orchestral music written between x and 21st century, not solely music of the Classical period). I’m more of a Romantic fan myself, but I do like a slice of Baroque or Renaissance on the semi-reg.

Given it’s Autism Acceptance Week worldwide right now, I thought I’d share a poem I wrote when I was first diagnosed in 2018. It was originally penned as a spoken word, but I’ve written the words below too.

Hey ASD – October 2018
Hey ASD,
It seems like just yesterday we were wandering around the top block playground
singing to ourselves at morning tea time
But that was 16 years ago,
And now we’re a little more socially literate
And a lot less lonely
Hey ASD,
Our brain is an algorithm
Needing constant reworking
Every new situation
another demonstration
Of our quirks and our strangeness
and our offbeat nature
Revise the code we’re good to go
Until the next social faux pas and we’re back to edit mode
It goes if then: lower your volume
if else: smile and listen
function this way 
print that face to screen
(Focus those eyes)
And if in doubt: ask open questions
Then there’s people: life’s variables
Consistently irrational creatures
Iterations of interpretation
like I’m learning the language
But life isn’t
Python and life isn’t R
(People get mad if they can’t class what you are)
You can’t rerun conversation when you get it all wrong
You just live and you learn and you cringe and move on
Hey ASD,
I thought you were reserved for the train-obsessed,
encyclopaedic savants,
and I thought only boys had you
Hey ASD,
We spent $600 for 6 psych sessions and a 10-page report with our name on it
But joke’s on them because Studylink paid for it
Hey ASD,
Now it makes sense why we squint our eyes when the lighting’s too bright,
why we wear earplugs to bed when it’s already quiet,
why we brush our teeth in the dark
and why some fabrics just– Feel. So. Itchy.
Hey ASD,
Now we know why we live in the past
why sometimes we’re way too loud
and sometimes we say nothing at all
Hey ASD,
Now we know why I didn’t know to reply when people said bye to me as a kid,
why I wasn’t the best listener,
why I live in my head half of the day,
why I went vegetarian at 8,
why my wrists itch and my eyes hurt and I have to keep blinking,
we know why friends drifted
why depression and anxiety took their grip in intermediate
and why the world of relationships was another layer of complexity
and sometimes we still feel like we just can’t cope
Hey ASD,
We both know it really doesn’t change anything now we’re acquainted
We’re still the weird kid who sings to herself
and eats nutritional yeast
and gets insomnia
and hogs all the hummus
and who sings songs in different languages
and calms down with Shostakovich in her ears
because sometimes words just don’t come close
and anyway: we know the weird ones are the best ones, right?


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