(c) Melinda Smith 2011

Posts Tagged ‘ArtsACT’

First… Then… autism poetry book on sale now

In News on April 10, 2012 at 11:55 pm

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To buy your copy from Ginninderra Press , scroll aaaaallll the way down to Melinda Smith, find my third book ‘First… Then…’ and click BUY NOW.

About the book

First…Then… is a short collection of 24 poems about autism, written by the mother of a son with ASD. The poems explore many different voices from planet autism – from verbal and non-verbal autistic children, to autistic men and women, to parents, carers and siblings. Some are moving, some are harrowing, and some are laugh-out-loud funny. Together they provide a unique window into a much misunderstood facet of the human experience.

The writing of the poems in First…Then… was supported by an ArtsACT new projects grant during 2011.  During that time the poems were drafted, redrafted, posted on this blog, and Tweeted and Facebooked to within an inch of their lives. Some of them were also published in other places (Tony Attwood’s website, Scottish Autism’s blog, Aspie in the Family, Quadrant Magazine, Blackmail Press, Geek Mook and ACT Carers’ Circle, to name a few – thanks to everyone involved for their support).

Now the poems are between two covers and ready to make their way out into the real world. Maybe they’re coming to your house ? I hope so.

PS: You can take a sneak peek inside the book by browsing around this blog. Start here. Enjoy.

PPS If you’re reading this before 12 April 2012 and you feel like coming to a launch or a reading, you’re invited ! Details here.

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Book launch details for First… Then…

In News on March 28, 2012 at 11:04 am

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Hello there.First… Then…, the book of this blog (a book of poems about autism), is on sale now from Ginninderra Press (scroll aaaaallll the way down to Melinda Smith, find my third book ‘First… Then…’ and click BUY NOW.

One launch down (thanks to all who came), one to go, plus a reading.

Launch Two – for the literary community and anyone else who could’t make it to Launch One – is on Wed 11 April, at 6.30 for 7pm, at Smith’s Alternative Bookshop in Alinga St Civic (in the Melbourne Building opposite the GPO). Eminent poet and novelist Alan Gould will be doing the honours at this one. Light refreshments provided, buy your own drinks at the bar.

Love to see you there !

The night before, I’m doing a poetry reading at the Gods Cafe, on the ANU campus, from 8 pm on Tuesday 10 April. Also reading (but not about autism) will be P S Cottier and Russell Erwin

About the book

First…Then… is a short collection of 24 poems, mostly dramatic monlogues in various voices. The poems focus on the experience of living with autism, but you do not need to know or be an autistic person to enjoy this book. The poems are by turns moving, harrowing and laugh-out-loud funny, and provide a unique window into a much misunderstood facet of the human experience.

The writing of the poems in First…Then… was supported by an ArtsACT new projects grant during 2011.  You can take a sneak peek inside the book by browsing around this blog.

First…Then… the book

In News on January 30, 2012 at 2:38 pm

So the 24 autism poems on this blog are going to be in a book. The title was originally going to be CircleQuirk but I have changed it to First…Then… after the most popular poem in the collection.

The book is coming out in April 2012 (Autism Awareness Month) and will be published by Ginninderra Press. At that point I will be taking most of the poems down and providing a link to where you can buy the book.

Between now and then they will remain here, free of charge for anyone to read (still copyright (c) Melinda Smith though 🙂 ). While they are all still here, I thought it might be helpful to have a Table of Contents page linking to the poems in the order they appear in the book (which is different to the order they were written and posted on this blog in).

So here ’tis. Enjoy. And I should remember to thank ArtsACT for supporting me one day a week while I wrote the poems.

First… Then… | poems from planet autism

Table of Contents

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Poetry appearing on this blog was generously supported by the ACT Government

First…Then…

Brain Weather

Autistic Acrostic

Beach cricket with four year old

autistic child with acute auditory processing disorder

what the child hears

I prefer

What I learned at school

Asperger’s diagnosis: a fugue

Not the Botany Bay Song

A prehistory of autism

On holding the baby of a friend

But

Social Stories for Neurotypical Adults #27: No Dogs Allowed

All magpies are autistic

The impossible blindfold

Love song of autistic husband

An autistic woman explains the terror of affection

Shechinah – or God and Temple Grandin

AUTISM CRUMPETS

I have autism

I am autistic

AutisTweets

#autismtshirtslogans

I am autistic

In Autism Poem on December 23, 2011 at 5:19 pm

A while ago I posted a poem called I have autism that was a ‘google-sculpture’. I said it was half of a pair. Here is the second half, also a google-sculpture – that is, the words in the poem are edited and rearranged results from a Google search on the phrase ‘I am autistic’.  Reading the two poems together I hope gives a window into the online autism community, as well as illuminating some of the debate about ‘person-first’ language in an autism context (does one say ‘autistic person’ or ‘person with autism’ ? Depends on who you ask…)

I am autistic…
 
because I cannot be separated from how my brain works
 
, I’m not a brat
 
: ask me about my needs
 
, not just an adult with autism. It is a part of who I am. I was born this way. I would not choose to change that.
 
, I’m not crazy.
 
. I can speak. My voice is different, not weak, and if you listened…
 
. I’m an adult, with a career, a mortgage, and my first grey hairs. I’m female
 
. I don’t have autism.  That’s a thing I’ve been saying forfuckingever. And yet people keep insisting on pointedly saying that…
 
. I’m apparently what they call “high-functioning”, but I don’t like the term very much; the division feels artificial
 
, and I think in pictures. If the philosophers are correct, I…
 
, and that’s even better !
 
and proud of it, says Indonesian Oscar Yura Dompas, at the launch of his autobiography, Autistic Journey, at QB world Book Plaza
 
: what’s your excuse ?

Social Stories for Neurotypical Adults #27 : No dogs allowed

In Autism Poem on December 16, 2011 at 4:55 pm

The poem below is in the form of a social story.  Most of those living with autism will be familiar with this behaviour modification tool, first developed by Dr Carol Gray.  Social stories are used with autistic (and other developmentally delayed) people to help them understand social situations and to illustrate appropriate and inappropriate behaviour.  They are written in a very particular (and proscribed) kind of idiom, with the sentence structure kept as simple as possible to minimise potential for confusion.  Reading a whole book of sample social stories can be hilarious: ‘When is the right time to talk about Thomas the Tank Engine’, anyone ?

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Poetry appearing on this page was produced with the generous support of artsACT

However I often find myself wishing that instead of ‘using’ social stories on my child, I could ‘modify’ the ‘behaviour’ of certain other members of the public so my child could have the right to a happy and safe experience of public space. The following poem comes out of that place…

 

 

 

 

 

Social Stories for Neurotypical Adults #27 :  No dogs allowed

I love my dog.
My dog’s name is Hackles.
I love to go walking with Hackles. It makes both of us very happy.
Hackles’ favourite thing is to run around without her leash on.
I love to see how happy she is when she does this.

There are some places where dogs are not allowed to go.
There are some other places where dogs are allowed, but only on a leash.
You can tell if you are in one of those places because there are big signs,
sometimes even with a picture of a dog with a red line through it !
I hate those signs. They make me mad !
I think it is unfair that Hackles can’t just go wherever she wants.
Sometimes I just ignore those nasty old signs.

Not everyone loves dogs.
Some people are scared of dogs.
Some children are so scared of dogs they have to scream and run away whenever they see a dog.

When someone acts afraid of Hackles, I get really upset.
Hackles is really sweet and wouldn’t hurt anyone.
Sometimes I want to take Hackles right up to the scared child and make them pat her,
just so they can see there is no reason to be afraid. 

If I take Hackles too close to a scared child it could be really dangerous.
The child might run away onto a busy road or into deep water.
Or they might scream so much that Hackles gets scared and angry and bites them.
Or they might get so upset they hurt themselves or other people, or me or Hackles.
I do not want this to happen.

I will try to remember that not everyone loves dogs as much as I do.
I will try to remember that the ‘no dogs allowed’ and ‘no dogs off leash’ areas are there for a reason.
The people and children who are scared of dogs need to have somewhere they can feel safe.

I will try to remember to do what the signs say.
Smart grown-ups obey signs.

I have autism

In Autism Poem on December 6, 2011 at 9:38 pm

The poem below was written using a new(ish) poetic technique (10 years is a short time in poetry) called google-sculpting.  I have been experimenting with this technique for a while now and I find it is a good way of capturing a diversity of voices and opinions about something.  It is particularly useful when writing about people living with autism because so many members of that community spend so much time connecting with each other online.

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Poetry appearing on this page was produced with the generous support of artsACT

I have decided to do a pair of google-sculpts, one based on the search phrase ‘I have autism’ and the other based on ‘I am autistic’ – highlighting a hotly debated issue about ‘person-first’ language but also hopefully capturing some other interesting ‘noise’ along the way.  This is the first of those.

I have autism

Do i have autism? high functioning autism, long periods of time, someones eyes
I Have Autism – Chapter 1 – YouTube
I have autism and I want you to know
True Life (TV series documentary 1998– ). I Have Autism. Documentary. Your rating: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X.
What are signs of Autism?,i have 2 month old twins and still in the …Your children are too young to worry about autism. It isn’t usually picked up until after age 2 (and 2 is early, usually more like around age 3). At this young of an age …
Autism: I have waited four years to get a kiss from my son. Now he’s kissing everybody
I’m not misbehaving, I have autism. Please be understanding
I don’t have autism. I am autistic.

How do I know if I have autism? What is autism? Autism is a lifelong developmental disability and is part of the autism spectrum. People with …
I Have Autism, my favourite book
I have Autism – Christian Forums Hey. My name is Lauren, I was diagnosed with autism in my toddler years. It’s actually very mild, a lot of people don’t even know I have it, but.
MTV’s I have Autism | try-therapy.com … MTV dares to impress with “I Have Autism.” The presentation details the lives of three very inspiring young men who all have differing …
Young I’m Not Misbehaving, I have Autism Nicholas Lombardi developed this pin, “I’m not misbehaving, I have Austism,” in a beautiful effort to …
Autism Speaks can go away. I have autism. I can speak for myself

Do you think I have autism ?
Autism Resources Miramichi Inc. – Lending LibraryBOOKS” I have Autism” – A Child’s First Look at Autism by Pat Crissey1001 Great Ideas for Teaching and …
My baby brother and I have autism
I have autism. What’s your excuse?’ T-shirts poke fun at disability, help educate others, mother says. My son Brandon looks like a typical teenager – until he …
I Have Autism” Child Size awareness bracelet is great for non verbal kids in case they get separated from you. On sale now at FlagsOnCars.com, you patriotic …
Yes, I have autism. Stare if you must. I’m not paying attention to you anyway

Could i have autism ?
Fishpond Australia, I Have Autism… What’s That? by Paddy McNally Kate Doherty. Buy Books online:
I have autism. Hear me out.
Special Needs 4 Special Needs I have Autism – temporary tattoo – I have Autism temporary tattoo. Featuring hot pink text on a bright green …
I’m not rude, I have autism

Do I have Autism? – NeuroTalk Support Groups no online test is going to give you even a clue if you have autism of not. The ONLY way you will know is if you talk to a doctor, and go to …
New to group and I have autism
Syndrom Puzzle Piece by MedicalAlert I Have Autism AspergersSyndrom Puzzle Piece Ribbon 2.25 pin back button badge. Asthma, peanut allergy, severe food allergies, diabetes, tree nut.
Shop I Have Autism Framed Prints. Large selection of unique and funny I Have Autism designs. 100% satisfaction guarantee. Fast shipping

Did I have autism? [Archive] – Physics Forums
I was too “weird” for them, due to the fact that I have autism. I just did not know the rules of what you were or were not supposed to do. I would come to a party too …

I have autism spectrum disorder ? what does this mean? does it mean ….I cant make friends?….. Share and Enjoy: …
I have autism and I want to work with people who have autism, any …

I have autism and I’m not afraid to use it

On holding the baby of a friend

In Autism Poem on November 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm

Hi there all. So sorry for my recent radio silence. I have been doing a lot of parenting and not much poeting. Hoping to redress the balance, starting now.

I am getting close to finishing the book. Very exciting. Only two more poems to go (in addition to those already on the blog), both of them nearly finished.

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Poetry appearing on this page was produced with the generous support of artsACT

The poem below is now at the second draft stage. It is a sonnet, by the way (in case you were curious). Comments welcome.

On holding the baby of a friend

I hug and nuzzle; brush my cheek to his.
He giggles, grabs my nose and grins at me.
I close my eyes and pray no-one will see
the tear I shed at how much fun this is.
I’m sprung: ‘Clucky again? Another son?’
How can I tell her so she’ll understand ?
I had so much of this to give : I planned
to shower it all on mine.  He wanted none.

I wonder whether mothers get a store
of child-affection, swelling in the chest
like milk come in, demanding to be used.
Does having to suppress it make you sore?
MyWebMD has nothing to suggest.
I borrow babies. They reduce the bruise.

Asperger’s diagnosis : a fugue

In Autism Poem on November 9, 2011 at 2:30 pm
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Poetry appearing on this page was produced with the generous support of artsACT

This poem is in the voice of an eight year old boy who  has recently discovered he has a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. It is difficult to explain, so I’m going to resist the urge to commentate and just say: read it. Think of it more like a piece of music than like a story with a beginning, middle and end. Comments welcome.

Asperger’s diagnosis: a fugue

The cup finishes. I see. I look and look and hold on to it. It makes sense now. Cup. Hand. It finishes.
In my football draw there will be no elimination matches
I don’t have Asperger’s syndrome.  I was terrified the horses and cows would fall off the hill
Here comes the Schumaker-Levy 9! Here it comes !
We called for hours and hours, why didn’t you answer?
I was being under a pyramid

The cup finishes. It makes sense now. I don’t have Asperger’s syndrome
David says I do but he’s wrong.  In my football draw the only elimination match will be the final
If there were no gravity we would all float up into the air and the oceans would leak away into space
We called for hours and hours, why didn’t you answer?
I dreamed there was a big chicken in my room trying to eat my legs

I don’t have Asperger’s syndrome. I look and look and hold onto it.
You say I do but you’re wrong. In Me-land money, the notes start at seven cruzlaks
Elimination matches are REALLY unfair
Roman baths were a lot like our health clubs
We called for hours and hours, why didn’t you answer?
I was terrified the horses and cows would fall.

Cup. Hand. Cup. Hand. Aspergers’ syndrome is dumb.
I don’t think there should be any more elimination matches, ever. I don’t.
The doctor says I do but he’s a baddie !
The notes start at seven cruzlaks because there is a five cruzlak coin
We called for hours and hours, why didn’t you answer?
The elephant bird was the biggest bird that ever lived

We called for hours and hours, why didn’t you answer?
I knew where you were.

I should mention that parts of this poem are a poetic response to the book Smiling at Shadows (Junee Waites & Helen Swinbourne, HarperCollins 2001), about Junee’s amazing son Dane and their journey so far.

all magpies are autistic

In Autism Poem on October 31, 2011 at 5:41 pm
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Poetry appearing on this page was produced with the generous support of artsACT

This poem pretty obviously takes as its starting point the picture book All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome by Kathy Hoopman (and its companion All Dogs Have ADHD). However my poem experiments with another animal which is not quite cute enough for a picture book – the Australian Magpie.

 Readers from the Northern Hemisphere may not know about this bird, a beautiful but quirky creature about the size of an adult forearm, with black-and-white plumage (like its northern namesake) but with markedly different behaviour. They nest in eucalypt trees and are supremely comfortable in suburban gardens.  In spring, adult magpies defend their nests by aggressively swooping on all perceived intruders (i.e. passers-by) within about 300 yards of the nest.  Not only does this include pedestrians, but cyclists and cars as well ! Springtime magpie attack is such a public safety issue that many local councils erect signs like the one pictured at left.  This feature of magpie behaviour is alluded to in the poem, as are many other interesting magpie peccadilloes.

On another level the poem, like both of Kathy Hoopman’s picture books, plays with the idea of labelling of behaviour: what looks aberrant to one group looks perfectly normal to another. This idea may resonate with you if you have ASD – or if you know, care for and / or love someone on the spectrum. Enjoy.

All magpies are autistic

odd body postures and limb movements, such as twisting or flapping

                flutter-flutter. puff. flap-flap. stand. stalk. stop. hoppy – hoppy – hop. stop. waddle-potter. waddle-potter. stop. step. step. step. head on one side. stalk. stalk. stop.

misinterpretation of the intentions of others, causing antisocial behaviour

                Warning…Warning…Birds swooping! Birds are nesting in this area. If you come too close, they may attack !

failure to recognise social concepts such as personal space

                ‘Mum! The magpie’s trying to stand on my sandwich !’

appetite for substances largely non-nutritive (pica)

‘Muuuum!’ Now it’s trying to eat the plastic wrap!’

seemingly random outbursts of speech and noise-making

                ‘Quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle, the magpies say.’*

extreme absorption in one restricted activity with apparent obliviousness to surrounding environment

                stock still. stock still. listen. listen. statue. statue. stock still. stock still. listen. listen. statue. sta – STAB THAT WORM !!

frequent self-stimulation by viewing shining, sparkling or rapidly oscillating objects

                pretty pretty alfoil. twinkle. twinkle. crinkle. love to watch. shiny bottle cap. light. light bouncing everywhere. pretty.

failure to understand social boundaries and lack of concern for the views of others, leading to transgression of behavioural norms

                pretty alfoil. want. take it. take it ? take it ! SNIP !

 

 

(*from Denis Glover‘s poem, ‘The Magpies’)

Shechinah – or God meets Temple Grandin

In Autism Poem on October 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

This is a poem about the spiritual journey of Temple Grandin, a famous designer of humane livestock abbatoir technology who also happens to have autism.  She writes about the evolution of her faith at length in her book Thinking in Pictures. I have tried here to condense it to poetry – please comment if you think I have failed ( or even if you think I have succeeded ! ).

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Poetry appearing on this page was produced with the generous support of artsACT

For structure I have used a quote from Albert Einstein (a quote which Grandin also cites with approval in her book).  If you look carefully you’ll see that each stanza has one word of the quote in it somewhere ( in order, of course – this is an autism poem, after all 🙂  ).

The Hebrew word ‘Shechinah’ in the title means ‘the in-dwelling presence of God’.

This version of the poem has been revised substantially since it first appeared on my other blog back in September.

Science without religion is lame.  Religion without science is blind.
                                  – Albert Einstein

Shechinah – or God meets Temple Grandin

I find Him first in logic: in the science of snowflakes;
in the patterns silver makes on platinum.

Then entropy terrifies me, chaos as telos.
Without order, I worry: where can He dwell ?

Perhaps if He keeps the gate, shepherding each atom
on its path from heat to cold ? In this image I remake my religion.

I discover Him also in libraries: my serene heavens of silence
and infinite shelving. My dearest wish is an afterlife of browsing,

tasting the bliss of the Great System – the halt and the lame reclining
in the silent reading corner; angels bringing them books.

Then: a swim in a dip tank drowns my religion,
organophosphates douse my pillar of flame.

The hangover leaves me without my wonder.  I am Dorothy, aching for awe,
raising the Wizard’s curtain, staring at the little old man.

At long last I find Him in science again, not in order but in the mystery
of entangled subatomic particles: their synchronised vibrations

span universes in an instant.  He is everywhere at once ! And again, after all my seeking
He comes to me where I am: He is with me in the slaughterhouses,

with me in the daily work of death. He blesses my sacred charge:
to ease each animal, calmly, with love, through the blind valley of the shadow.