Back in January, for the first time ever, I met a man who has Aspergers Syndrome, who was also open about this condition, and what it meant to him. (The others are usually online, and have not been diagnosed.) We had a four hour conversation, and we occasionally got on to the topic of anti vaxxers. He made an interesting remark – one I won’t repeat here – but I had to flip the idea of an Autistic epidemic on its head. This is meant to be tongue in cheek for that reason, using the stereotypes I have been levelled with, as well as my personal experiences.
This was ‘performed’ live at Lava Elastic on March 8th in Brighton.
You say that we’re the autistic epidemic
Something to eradicate like the common cold
But you and I are alike in contradictions
The quiet to the bold
Because ‘obviously’ we lack empathy
And we sound like a robot on the flat line
And when you give us way too much sound
We melt down into a decline
Why, you are everywhere!
In a world for you, by you, built for you
Why is such a pressing question: “what should I do with my hair?”
There is a culture of conformity that means
Teen girls have to look the same;
Flicky long hair, fluffy jackets, fake nails tapping at an iPhone
And later in life comes the wail: “My God, my first grey!”
Apparently we are too weird, too unusual
Too trusting, unaware of any potential danger
Because to be weird is ‘social death’
But can’t we all be something of a freak of nature?
This is the neurotypical epidemic.
It is but a reflection
Of the incurious and the lacksidiscal-
Someone even shouted: “Enough of this Autistic infection!”
And then, and then some more,
Relatives worry if you get too cold
Because the brain doesn’t tell the body what to do
Yet “You’re so bloody literal” is what we’re always told
The reactions differ when you’re diagnosed:
“You’re voice is so strange”, “You’re so weird”
“Do you know how literal you are?” Says the obviously not-to-be-answered question
Maybe we shouldn’t be the ones to be feared
Or: “You must be cured foul devilishly beast!”
“Are you like Rainman?”, “What’s your ability as a savant?”
Maybe it’s navigating a world of impossabillities
And not to excess, do we drink wine or Crement (cray-mont)
You have always, always attributed to me
What you think I think and feel
It’s funny as my expressions are misread
Just being is bored, worry is okay, and eating is apparently ill?
Another criticism: “You have no empathy”
And it is so commonly said
From a clique of girls, the teachers, the employer
Maybe it’s time they looked at themselves instead
Is it empathetic to cry
Over something that you can never change?
Check your privilege, do something about it
That way we’ll not remain the same
Why is it such a problem that
We like to arrange cars, pencils, in a long line?
You laud us as geniuses vice versa
How did you come to that, what did you have to divine?
Maybe we can talk properly
Without the raining cats and dogs, something to do with socks
Yes it’s literal, like you always, always say
But we aren’t the devil, in need of the sign of the cross
Yes I may be ‘highly exaggerated’
But Autism from me you won’t catch
You can’t catch it anyway
And it won’t be gone with a click of the fingers, some chemicals, a lie, a flash
The culture of conformity is the real epidemic
As it suppresses any originality
Who’d want to be the same, anyway,
When we have our own individuality?
To spread disinformation
Is what makes you weak
As does to declare “I hate Sally, she has my nail varnish.”
It’s infantile, petty, about this why do we speak?
When we have a label, a community
We live in hope, no longer this lie
Because we are not an epidemic or to be eradicated
To do better, want better, is what it means to be alive