by Lydia Wayman

If I knew what to say, I’d tell you a million little things that I’ve acquired in my brain over the weeks and months and lifetime.

If I could, I’d tell you that I’m so over age appropriateness.  You say Disney and American Girl isn’t age appropriate for me?  Well, excuse my language, but I say you can shove it.  I would, if I could, ask you what the point of encouraging age appropriate interests is.  Is it to make friends?  I have many, even more than I can keep track of sometimes.  Is it so that people will like me?  Hate to break it to you, but people already do like me (not everyone, but, well, obviously, right?).  Is it so that I can be normal?  And to what end, I would ask?  If I’m comfortable with it, you should be comfortable with it, and that’s that.

And if I could, I would say that that I’m so over normalcy.  Ask Chloe what “normal” means… she’ll tell you that it’s “just a setting on the washing machine.”  I would argue that “normal” is of no value outside of its statistical meaning, which is the mean or standard deviation of 0.  If “normal” means chasing down boys, going to bars, and trying to “get ahead”… all the while being unable to articulate your personal beliefs, values, and sense of self… well then, I rest my case, I would tell you.

If I could, I’d tell you that the peace that silence brings me is like a starry night and an open field.  It’s huge, it’s wondrous, it’s freeing.  I’d tell you that speech is harsh, cold, and metallic.  There is beauty in silence.  Rather than run from it, try embracing it.

If I could, I’d tell you that I’m still stuck on some aspects of theory of mind.  I simply cannot grasp that other humans have brains like mine that think thoughts like mine (this, coming from the girl who literally authors blog posts while she sleeps and dreams of typing).  I can’t grasp that people can think while other humans are present.  I ask, again, how does the world not explode?  I also get myself entirely confused when trying to figure out the essential aspects of a story which I must relay to another person in order for them to understand me.  I say too much or I say too little, but rarely do I get it just right.

And if I could… oh, I’d tell you.  I’d tell you that sometimes I feel like I ought to be doing a much better job of telling you what it’s like on the inside, so to speak.  I’d tell you that I have no direction, no idea where my writing is going, just that I need to write.  I’d tell you that sometimes I think that a more interesting, more relatable, or even a more autistic person ought to be writing, and not me.  I worry… I’d tell you.

I’d tell you… forgive the analogy, but something (I can’t seem to quite get what that something is) is like a woman in labor, here.  Whether it’s a revelation, a relationship, I do not know, but something is on the horizon.  I can feel it.

I’d ask you how people are meant to sleep at night when the world is in such pain.  Perhaps I don’t show much empathy, but I literally lose sleep over hunger, pain, death… of people who have no faces and no names, of animals, of life itself.

And, I do apologize, but I would implore you… I would say, “Educate!”  Tell just one person today something, anything about autism.  Shatter a stereotype.  There’s a whole world out there, and it’s ours for the taking, but we have to get past our shyness and educate.  My place is at my keyboard, and I thank God that I have found these keys and taught these fingers; where is your place?

I would tell, I would ask… I would even implore… but there are just no words, or none good enough.  But then, words are all we have.

About the Author: Lydia Wayman is a young woman with autism and the author of two books: Living in Technicolor: An autistic’s thoughts on raising a child with autism and Interview with Autism. This piece first appeared on her blog, Autistic Speaks, and is reprinted here by permission.



One thought on “Ineffable

  1. John Makin says:

    You speak for so many in that blog. I don’t feel we have any problems with empathy, with the ability to go beyond sympathy, beyond being able to feel sorry for …, to go beyond that and to identify with the feelings that another has.

    Our problem is being able to communicate that identity, to express all the myriad of thoughts and feelings that we would like to share if only we had a way to do so.

    All communications is so limited – but no that is wrong there is a method that a few can aspire to, Art. Art of any medium by which the artist can engage with us in expressing thoughts, emotions, feelings…

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