Dua buah tulisan ini saya ambil dari website Donna Williams, seorang artis, penulis lagu juga wanita autis yang menerbitkan banyak sekali buku mengenai autis, salah satunya Nobody Nowhere: The Extraordinary Autobiography of an Autistic Girl (sudah diterjemahkan ke bahasa Indonesia dengan judul: Dunia Dibalik Kaca terbitan Qanita Mizan). Selain itu, ia juga seorang komposer, pencipta lagu, dan pelukis.
Come On, Its ‘Easy’!
We have a post office near us, one of the few and only shops I regularly go into, and its caused some challenges for me.
It used to have overtly bigoted people in there who would be abrupt and roll their eyes and ‘tutt’ and stuff like that when I didn’t get my money out or didn’t work out my purchase or have everything sorted before I came to the counter or when I couldn’t understand my change or left it behind or forgot to collect my purchase or tried to send something half addressed or or or.
Then fortunately those people left and new nicer people came and they were kind but when I had challenges the man would say, ‘look, its really easy’.
But it was never easy.
I send parcels.
To send parcels at the post office you have to come in the door then NOT line up.
Instead you have to go to a different standing thingy in the centre of the room and find the label to declare whats in your parcel, write on it then remember to take it with your parcel over to the counter by joining the queue… at the end of the queue.
Sounds easy doesn’t it?
OK, so I finally achieved it after trying for one year… yes, one year.
So why was this so hard?
OK, try coming in the door and remembering that BEFORE you do something you have come to do, you must do something else.
This may sound logical to you but to me it completely boggling.
As soon as I come in I assume I should line up because that’s how to get served and I’m there for get served at the counter.
So the idea of putting on hold what I’ve got to do WHILST I do something else, doesn’t exist in my world I’m afraid.
When I do the something else, I forget why I’m there.
If I remember why I’m there, I forget the something else I’ve got to do first.
Then, after months of patterning to go and do the something else FIRST I still had the problem of not walking across the room straight to the front of the queue.
As you probably know, this doesn’t win friends.
But tell that to a dyslexic for whom the end and beginning of the queue are only kinaesthetically in ‘relation to the door of entry’.
So what happens when you don’t come in and join the queue but have to join it ONCE your inside?
Well, that’s when you look at the long line of people and take the most direct route.
This is of course logical as when one comes in the door the end is always the most direct route so try teaching the body that once you are already inside the shop this isn’t the way to the end of the queue.
No can do, patterning overrides, after all it is a form of intelligence and in the absence of the same visual processing as others this is my most reliable sensory navigation- body mapping.
So here I am, trying to sequence without sequencing, trying to be directional with a dyslexic brain in which left and right, beginning and end are in relation to where I came in and otherwise random and you have something not so easy at all.
Finally, the other day, after a year of trying and guessing and getting it wrong, I finally ‘did’ this illogical, chaotic, new system and felt very clever regardless how stupid I must have seemed to have taken so long to learn ‘such a simple thing’.
But as I stood in that queue at the right end, smiling to myself, I knew I’d done what others in that queue hadn’t done. I could walk in their shoes, however foreign, in a world in which almost none of them will ever find a use, worth or reason in walking in mine.
At the counter it was like I won the lottery and the nice people smiled nicely and served me like an ordinary and equal person and we joked about how taking one year to learn this simple thing ‘wasn’t so long’.
What do you want?; Why a simple question can be so hard to answer.
One of the very simple things that bugs me are questions like ‘would you like…?’ , ‘what do you want….?’
I used to have such acute chronic Exposure Anxiety that I couldn’t bear having my existance so brutally made overt as through being addressed about MY reality, my inner reality. I’d rather have an entire clothes line of dirty underwear strung up around me that let anyone know directly in response to their question what I liked, thought, wanted. He’ll, I didn’t even get that clarity, what on earth gave them the right to an intimate ownership of such things when I didn’t even have that yet? Ah yes, paranoid perhaps but that was where I used to live when I was a ‘cat’ ‘island’… that was then, this is now, with diet, supplements, tinted lenses, sensorily and emotionally balanced environment and medication I’m almost tame. I tolerate such questions but I have still never been able to naturally like them.
Besides, questions seem bizarre to an island, a ‘cat’ ‘island’, it is ‘dog’ ‘collectives’ who watch and wait and wish and wonder. ‘Being’ was my forte. There’s no place for questions in a world of being… but then this isn’t MY world I live in… not this external world,… its governed by the reality of the majority and they are not ‘cat’ nor ‘islands’.
But having spent most of my life a cat island it was compounded by several other aspects of being mono-tracked.
Multi-trackers have a consistent sense of simultaneous self and other. When they ask a question they already are fathoming the other person in relation to their own wants, needs, thoughts. This is awesome and bizarre to me because I’m so mono that I never knew a simultaneous experience and processing of sense of self and other existed… I knew people acted like this system existed but figured it was some kind of agreed game or convention, not the product of a different processing reality, a different experience…
So when they sit there with their empty bucket processing reality craving new input because in their multi-track fantastic-dom they’ve already processed what was left of all the info they marvellous already filtered for relevance… so basically they’re understimulated so why not ask QUESTIONS… hey buzz buzz, questions will give them new info, fill their empty bucket and give them ‘food’ for their insatiable sense of simultaneous self and other… that space in which they feel understimulated and alone if they don’t get the info in their bucket.
So they ask the mono person… why not, aliens like me look just like anyone else and if we have curly hair, laughing eyes, smile and chatter all the greater the assumption we will be glad we were asked such courteous questions as ‘would you like’, ‘do you want’.
Ha ha, but no, alas, I hear the question from them as ‘other’ then I flick to the ‘you’ in their question, translate it to ‘me’ and then, bingo, forgot the question didn’t I, so back to the question, ok, got it, got its meaning, now back to me because without now putting ME in the question I can give no response, so there’s me, ok, got the experience and concept of me, right, now what was the question…. you get the picture…
And even if I find an answer that is not rote learned or based on awareness of what they other person would usually hear, expects to hear, wants to hear, I have no real idea of why they would NEED or WANT to hear it or why I’d NEED or WANT to tell them!
But its such a simple question… and its out of caring and manners and connection.
And I care, I have my own version of manners and I certainly feel connection with the asker… I may like them, even love them, but still questions are bizarre.
So why do I ask my questions in the structure of statements?
Because I don’t understand the EXPERIENCE of questions as well as the expression of experiences through statements.
A ‘cat’ ‘island’ talks out loud to oneself in the presence of all that’s external.
A ‘dog collective’ barks easily and openly always directed directly at the reaction from others.
Pose a statement of fact or fiction and have no doubt my body will answer if it resonates a truth for me or falls flat as ‘does not compute’ in my experience. My foot will jiggle, my eyes will sparkle, my jaw will respond, a squeal will rise.
But ask me a question and its still 50-50 you’ll get any answer and even then if its really what I mean to say. Ask me in writing, its better, but pose your questions as statements and boy does the tap open and the water flows.
Till then, ‘is this what you like?’, ‘is this what you want?’, ‘have you had a nice day?’, ‘did you enjoy that sandwich?’