Poem: The Neurotypical Epidemic

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

Yet neurotypicals

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