AUTISTIC LINCS: By autistic author Callum Brazzo
This is history.
This is history because I am the first autistic author to regularly feature in this newspaper…but why does that matter?
You’ve heard a little bit about my story about how I’ve risen above depression and severe anxieties that kept me from leaving my house.
History has shown that people like me don’t get a voice despite having one and THAT is the most important point to make here.
We have a voice.
The autistic community can communicate with you if you choose to expand your definition of communication.
When I didn’t speak much, poetry was and still is my most prominent form of communication and we have to work towards finding that absolutely necessary outlet for everyone.
Now, some autistic people are non-verbal and therefore people can assume incompetence and automatically turn to ‘baby talk’ but this is insulting to so many people and I do not advise this as a productive way forward.
If a non-verbal person is grabbing your arm, and you or others around you perceive this as aggressive, think of it as communication rather than ‘challenging behaviour’ because they are likely to want something or maybe they are stressed from having to manage their rainbow filter of sensory input.
Explore ways of discovering and harnessing that desire to communicate an unmet need or a distressing sensory aspect of this world that, quite frankly, most of us take for granted.
Sensory factors such as the bright lights of a school hall, the loud noises of passing traffic and the rough surfaces of walls can all form the rainbow filter that autistic people often experience life through.
We can communicate our dislikes as well as our likes in various ways. We may dislike the bright lights of a school hall and therefore be unwilling to enter it. Purchasing dimmer switches, considering different entryways to the hall or investing in stress relievers to fidget with or squeeze are some possible solutions.
For those thinking about the cost, it doesn’t always take a lot of money to make a big difference. Let’s challenge OURSELVES to think differently. Whether it’s via sign language, Makaton, dance, poetry, Lego, snakes, trees, animals, trains: whatever it is!
Autistic people are deeply connected to the world. It is often others that are disconnected.
Practical solutions are crucial if we are to truly implement autistic people into our world and so I welcome correspondence with the readership so I can actively support your circumstances.
This is a conversation.
We must move forward into a world full of robust definitions of communication and, rather than rely on a single voice, create an orchestra of voices in harmony with what is best for the autistic individual. And whilst it feels great on a personal level to be a new version of myself, I have written my history.
My path has led me to embracing myself and others in the local and national community as a collective, collaborative and communicative unit.
It is time to enable others to tell their stories however they choose to tell them.
This is the future.