As well as running training programs for those wanting to understand autism better, Wenn is a poet and a writer who possesses a real passion for words. "It was when I came to understand that 'words' could explain the world better that my love for them increased. With each and every word I have a corresponding picture. As these pictures form links within the chain of life so my experience becomes more 'real'."
Autism is: being present in this world,
But not entirely of it.
I am one step removed and curled,
The switch just doesn't click. I perform the role of my perception,
And play many parts so well.
But minus files for my redemption,
My part in life I cannot tell. Life is like a video,
I watch but cannot partake.
My uneven skills are but an echo,
Of the frustrations which I hate! However, my focused use of time and space,
I would not give away.
I know that I am especially placed,
For some developed career one day!
Explanation: I know that I am alive; I breathe, move, talk and function just like any other Human Being. However, I understand (because it has been said to me) that other people perceive me as being different to them. My difference expresses itself in various ways, (egocentricity, eccentricity, and emotional immaturity) but, in particular, in my uneven skill ability. Life seems to me to be like a video that I can watch, but not partake in. I sense that I live my life 'Behind Glass'. However, at times I am completely taken up with an obsession or a perception that may dominate my existence and make it easy to stay focused. For me, such times mean that I feel 'connected' to life. Life, for me, takes on meaning and purpose.
So This Is Me!
Twiddle dee and twiddle dum,
How on earth have I begun?
I started out all right you see,
But now I question "who is me?" Which of these I know so well,
How I wish that I could tell.
If only it could stay the same,
I'd work the rules out for this game. They call the movie 'Life' you see,
But which is them and which is me?
I know for me the words serve well,
But as for others, who can tell? I thought I'd got it,
But then came the shock.
You lot knew it,
But I did not!!
Explanation: This poem aptly describes my need for 'rules'. I had rules for everything. If there were no rules specified, for example: only cross a road at a crossing, then I invented my own rules. This I did so that I had guidelines enabling me to navigate my way through the process of daily living. However, as you all know there just aren't always rules for all situations, except maybe the rule that says, "there are no rules'. Unfortunately I didn't learn that rule at this time!
Change, change and more change,
Of context, place and time.
Why is it that life's transient stage,
Plays havoc with my mind? You said, "We'll go to McDonald's"
But this was just a thought.
I was set for hours,
But the plan then came to naught. My tears and confused frustration,
At plans that do not appear,
Are painful beyond recognition,
And push me deeper into fear. How can life be so determined?
How can change be so complete?
With continuity there is no end,
Security and trust are sweet. So, who said that change would not hurt me?
Who said my 'being' could not be safe?
Change said, "You need continuity"
In order to find your place. For change makes all things different,
They no longer are the same.
What was it that you really meant?
All I feel is the pain.
Explanation: One of the best tools that we can equip our youngsters with is that of teaching them strategies to cope with change. One of those being that it is OK if things don't go exactly to plan.
What is time?
I tried to climb the big oak tree
Scampered across and scraped my knee.
I walked for hours, picked some flowers.
If only I could just be me! I watched the boy who lived next door.
He had a kite, I watched it soar
He had a bike, the boy next door
He had a car, I heard it roar. The boy next door then moved away,
So did his kite and bike and car, they say.
I watched and listened, just in case
But they were gone and in their place
The boy next door just was no-more. So did they really exist, or were they just a dream?
How can they be there and then be not?
Is it like something that I forgot?
Explanation: I use this rhyme to illustrate my experience of time. This concept is actually very difficult to explain. It's as if time stands still. Other people, events and happenings may move on but I am left behind. My emotions, my feelings, my thoughts all accompany me, but they don't seem to move on when time changes. Of course some aspects of me do move with the times. I am aging or maturing if you like, but that's on the outside of me. Inside I find it difficult to adjust to change and, as Tony Attwood might say "I have the inability to forget". This might seem like a contradiction, because actually I am very forgetful!
For example, I may forget what I need to buy at the shop, but I can't forget the theme of a video, the outfit someone was wearing or the layout of a venue I lectured at. Indeed the whole area of 'time' is a fascinating one and I really haven't worked it all out yet.
Communication, orchestration and any other 'action',
Can lure and connive its path
On peoples thoughts and others behalf.
But what of us autistics?
We think and we ponder,
While you lot sit and wonder.
"What is exactly going on?"
You say within your mind.
We know without a doubt.
But you need time to work it out.
For us it's all so simple!
Words are what they seem to be.
To us there is no problem!
Herein lies the hitch you see,
Words for you or words for me?
We tend to view things differently!
Explanation: Taking words literally and thinking in pictures is what I do naturally. Knowing this can be used as a tool to aid my learning. For example, if you want me to understand a topic, theme or remark... then I need you to 'put me in the picture' or 'paint a picture of it for me'. This means using words to give me the mental images that build a picture of what it is you are saying. If I don't have a picture for it, then I can't think it. Difference is always uncomfortable. We all like to be amongst that which is familiar, predictable and comfy. Imagine how uncomfortable it would be if you took words and people literally? You would so often feel let down, disappointed, lied to and so on. How could you ever depend on someone?
One of the ways I have dealt with this is to structure my daily life. I need my rules, rituals and routines to help me cope with uncertainty and with the threat of change. Change is uncomfortable for all of us but, it can be devastating for us autistics!
My Life and Yours
"Wenn, Wenn" I hear the teacher say.
"Wenn, Wenn, please look this way."
"Wenn, Wenn", I hear the children say.
"Wenn, Wenn, please come and play."
I hear the words that come each day,
"What do they mean?" I hear me say.
Words without pictures simply go away.
I turn my head and look instead
At all that glitters; blue, green and red.
"You'll like it here" Father speaks,
Come and play with Billy"
Inside my head my brain just freaks,
"How can they be so silly?"
"Why would I want to do this thing"
My mind can find no reason.
"Please leave me with the sparkly string,
This gives me such a feeling."
Life on earth is but a moment caught within the crease of time,
The seasons come and go again,
You have your life, and I have mine.
The seed that's planted within the ground
Cannot choose what to become.
A potato, an apple or a rose for some.
However, for it to be the very best,
It needs rich soil, not poor.
The sun and the rains must come,
To open that seeds door.
I may be born to nourish others,
I may delight the senses.
I may grow tall,
I may grow small,
I may stay stunted beneath wire fences.
My future may not depend on my stock,
So much as it does upon sources.
Sources of warmth, sources of care
I depend on the nurture to be for me there.
Then I can blossom and sing with the birds,
Then I can grow my potential.
So plant me in goodness and all that is fine,
Please keep the intruders away.
Give me a chance to develop, in time,
To become who I am, in life's future, one day!
"I want to be like Superman"
the answer to all things is "He can",
His name gives hope,
He don't smoke dope.
He doesn't sit around and mope!
"Why can't I be like him?"
"Why do I not fit in?"
"I'm not the same, can't play your game,
What, I wonder, is in my name"?
You called my name, your tone was soft.
I looked at you with questioning eyes...
"It's OK", you said "I will not scoff".
You noticed my fear and my surprise.
"Am I really welcome here?"
"You'll soon get fed up with me".
"Well, if I do I'll just tell you so,
We'll work it out, so have no fear".
"But I so often get it wrong".
"We all do that my friend".
But what if I hurt you?"
You will, I'll mend".
So, how can I know if I should go,
When to be fast, or to be slow?
When to speak or silence show,
It's your turn now, you have a go?
We'll learn together, explore this land.
But you must allow me to hold your hand.
It won't be easy, but we'll stand our ground,
And come out triumphant, our friendship sound.
Explanation: Each of us has a script that is both contributed to by our own evaluation of self and the judgements made of us by others. What is written in your script? What is written in mine? Does it say positive things about you or about me? I believe that the internalised script that I live my life from can either promote a healthy sense of self, or, a very unhealthy one. If I feel valued and welcome, then the image I have of my worth and of myself should also be one of value.