So I write with a renewed sense of my identity as an autistic person who doesn’t want to spend her life passing, which is a bitter sweet moment. There’s a real rub to it, which is that ‘feeling more autistic’ is often a result of being more disabled. But until more progress is made in the wider world, anything else is a mirage.
I know a a lot about posthumous collaboration. As an artist I work in multiple forms to respond to my father’s life story and his plays. I’ve even written a play about a playwright with my father’s name, and adopted his voice to narrate my take on his story. In many ways I view Richard Butchins’ 213 Things About Me as a kindred project. At an artist’s talk last year, I was caught by surprise when asked what my father would think about my work. This question has stayed with me and makes me wonder what the real Rose would make of these podcasts. It takes a profound level of trust in a relationship for work quite so intimate. The first episode of the series is called, You What?
I’m loving this phase of my becoming. My post-it isn’t designed for sympathy, no, no! For me this is a powerful image, brimming with ownership. I’m all for that!
It’s important to feel useful to stay alive. We must all feel that we have agency over the things which matter to us. In my studio I know that my tomatoes will dance, sing, and play with me, until they’re ripe and ready to emerge as talismans for a way of being that can’t be silenced – it is too joyful and beautiful.
I know I can’t effect culture shift with my tomatoes – thought I can help to signal a growing impetus in the arts sector. Thinking though this blog post, I’ve also been enabled by my conversations with colleagues about the power of silence.
I will hold the possibility of silence as a response for future encounters with unwitting social ableism. Let’s see what opens up in the gap.
Stills from video capture: Sonia Boué, 2017 I’m autistic. It’s my job to be anxious. Being anxious is one of the things I do best, so I’ve done some good worrying about some of the more recent approaches I’ve experienced from arts organisations who I am not in partnership with. I’ve started to fear theContinue reading “Neurodivergence and tokenism in the arts!”
Photo credit Joel Chester Fildes Do you know how to use the terms neurodiverse and neurodivergent? What’s in a word? What are four letters between friends, you might well ask. I myself am no fan of getting hot under the collar about language OR spelling. I’m dyslexic and I loathe being corrected. Way to feelContinue reading “Neurodivergence – language, the concept of ‘group brain’, and neurological-ecologies.”
I can’t talk about my new work yet, but it makes my pulse race and spurs me on even as we face the tipping point of winter (my life long nemesis!) What I do want to do is offer encouragement to others, wherever you may be in your journey to congruence.
It wasn’t until I was home again and took off my handmade brooch (pictured above) that I made the connection between the powerful congruence I felt at #InsideOutAutism and wearing it on both days. I’m still processing why this act of making and wearing felt significant. I’ve never been one to wear text on my body in any form, perhaps because my identity has been at times uncertain and under siege.
But my self-fashioned brooch was different. Here was an artefact, crafted over time and without conscious purpose, redolent of my journey as an autistic woman in reclaiming the language used about me, and my people. So antiquated is the text that I am unfamiliar with some of the words, and it acts as a curio, or something I could have inherited. I feel I have. It holds a familial feeling, and when I peer at its loveliness I hear the ancestral whisper – we were once like you. If an object can be joyful and witty, it has those qualities. Have you ever bounced on a trampoline? My brooch is the rebound which tosses your heart in the air. It gives me abnormous joy. It trumpets confidence. That zing-a-ling feeling that I’m A-okay.
What I do have is a complex relationship with masking – which I want to be honest and hopefully nuanced about. Stigma exists, often we don’t have a choice (those of us who’ve learned masking as an adaptation). For myself as a bilingual person, I have come to think of masking as a bilingualism wrought by the necessity of living between worlds with different cultures.
I hope to write more about masking and caring as my situation evolves.
I recognise that in some profound and irreversible way I’ve unmasked myself, and that yet in doing so I’ve hardly faltered, feeling that it is worth it for my community and for the future I want for my children. But it’s not all about altruism and social change.
I’m an autistic person who embraces my disability as identity (not all of us do), and finds the ‘label’ liberating. The more I push through the better my life gets. I only struggle when confronted face to face with people who are patronising, angry, or want to deny my struggles. I chose to paddle away as quickly as possible. I’m too old to spend my time engaged in this kind of nonsense. I’ve spent too much of my life confused and wrong-footed.