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Spalding columnist Callum Brazzo: 'Write the future'

Hierarchy. This idea that there are rankings, levels, layers to things. There is the Royal Family and The British Government and there is us, the people on the ground who are subject to their rulings.

The teachers teach and the students learn. That’s how our education system works and we all accept that. But sometimes, rules are inverted and the teachers get stuck in their ways and are unable to accept that the student knows the best way forward.

The most prominent example I can bring to light is technology.

Autistic author Callum Brazzo
Autistic author Callum Brazzo


Teachers from older generations did not have the access to it that the young generations do. However, we don’t have to phase out the older generation completely and instead we can create dialogue between the generations and work with those that want to accept the generational shifts and find a balance.

A pen and notebook will always be my favoured creative utensils but I can see the benefits of computer typing, especially as it relates to typing up books and getting your poems across to a wider community more immediately as well as the Touch-Screen and Voice-Activated equipment that enables more opportunities for communication.

Just like the balance we have to strike as a society that is becoming closer to nature and our impact on it with the impact of Greta Thunberg and her following both online and offline, I am reminded this week that you need to create a dialogue between neurodivergent (including autistic) people and neurotypical (non-autistic/allistic) people in order to make those necessary shifts, in this case, with the culture.

It’s Autistic History Month and the most important shift in my autistic culture is that of the mindset.

The puzzle piece symbol that so many people blindly put on a pedestal has a hugely offensive history relating to autistic people ‘missing’ something.

To those people thinking that we can simply move past that symbol or even to redefine it, many autistic people cannot, will not, and trust me when I tell you that my reaction is ‘mild’ in comparison to others.

And I think it’s the mildness and the middle ground I reside in that enable me to see both sides (not that it’s any easier for me.)

I am fiercely loyal to my tribe, my autistic community, but sometimes neurotypical people simply don’t have the access to information about the puzzle piece symbol or the colour blue that we often ‘light up.’ Both represent the idea of ‘curing’ what isn’t a disease (taken from my Masking poem on the Autistic Led YouTube channel) and that autistic mind.

But to be partners in mind, we have to acknowledge the deep neural routines we form, meaning that we cannot let the autistic history of the horrific deaths, treatment in the public sector from schools and colleges to police officers and the myriad injustices affect autistic futures. There are good people on both ‘sides’ of the story, autistic and neurotypical.

I know that I wouldn’t be where I am without my dad and many close family members and friends, most of whom would sit on the neurotypical side of the fence (and that’s okay!)

My first girlfriend wasn’t autistic and our union greatly benefitted from our contrasting brains.

The truth is that in so many situations in my life, and many others, it’s about finding a balance and finding the right person for the job with tools crafted from melded, unified communities.

As we seamlessly segue into the political landscape, the autistic community is full of politics too and it can often be just as divisive as our own with Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats etcetera.

There are high-profile autistic people in the media, whose names I am choosing not to mention at the risk of giving them more exposurefor the messages they put forth and their backgrounds respectively and the fact I am doing that gives weight to the idea of politics within the autistic community.

Some people in our community have grown up thinking that they need to be fixed or associate with people that deem autism as needing to be ‘fixed’ and this narrative pervades autistic and neurotypical circles alike.

So as the trend of Autistic History Month reigns supreme in our consciousness, it’s important for us ALL to do the following:

See the past.

Read about the present.

Write the future.

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