Ode to a Hat

So I was digging through my drafts, like you do, and I found this poem, with some notes, and the first few lines written. I remember being excited to write it, so I figured I’d dust it off and finish.

I’ve had my grey beanie for more than 5 years, and it is the ultimate comfort item. Things have changed, though, so look for an update at the bottom.

Ode to a Hat

I have a hat, it’s grey and old

It fits real nice, or so I’m told

It matches everything, I find

This might be ’cause I’m color-blind

I don’t leave home without it, cause

It drowns out all the noise and buzz

Its weight helps keep me safe and calm

It soothes my senses like a balm

And when the world feels red and raw

And my whole head feels full of straw

I pull it on and give a sigh

I feel so good, and I know why

So. Since I conceived this poem, some things have changed regarding my hat. Don’t worry, I didn’t lose it, but when I got my hearing aids, I was informed that you can’t wear a hat and hearing aids at the same time, because the hat will muffle the mic, and give a lot of feedback. It’s been a hard adjustment.

Almost two months in and I’m still trying to get used to my head feeling naked. I still pull it out if I’m at home and really stressed, but it’s so hard to take it back off sometimes, it’s almost worse.

So RIP to my favorite grey hat, my comfort item extraordinaire, protector of my head.

 

 

 

Autism Acceptance Education Acrostic

It’s April again, and here we are kicking off Autism Acceptance Month! Calling it Acceptance Month instead of Awareness month may confuse people who are outside of the Neurodivergent community, but I think that this provides a great opportunity for education.

So, since I never miss a chance to make poetry here is an Acrostic poem with education in mind.

Autism Acceptance Education Acrostic

Autism is a neurological variation in functioning, not an illness, a disease, or a tragedy.

Curing Autism is not the goal of Autistic people. We want Accessibility and Acceptance.

Communities can promote inclusivity by listening to Autistic people about their needs.

Eugenics works by wiping out genes, like ones that cause Autism. No more Autistics.

Person first language is preferred by many groups. Autistics prefer Identity First.

The Neurodiversity Movement includes neurotypes like Tourette Syndrome and ADHD.

Accessibility is necessary for Neurodivergent people to succeed in their communities.

Nothing About Us Without Us is a Disability Rights slogan that promotes self-advocacy.

Communication doesn’t just mean speaking, there are many ways people can connect.

Empathy may be a struggle for some Autistic folks, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care.

 

Notes:

  • Person First Language aka A person with Autism, instead of an Autistic Person, is generally recommended by Disability Advocacy groups. Most Autistics reject it because we believe that Autism is an intrinsic part of who we are. The Deaf Community also, for the most part, rejects Person First Language.
  • Other Autistic Cousins include Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Epilepsy.
  • Accessibility can include assistive devices (noise canceling headphones, stim toys, etc.), support people/animals, things like using email instead of phones and having family/friends/coworkers learn about Autism.
  • The Autism Rights Movement borrowed “Nothing About Us Without Us” from Disability Rights, and have used the goal of Self Advocacy to found organizations like the Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN).
  • Other ways to communicate include Sign Language and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Devices. Also, communication styles are as unique as the people who use them, so use what makes the most sense.

*please note, that I only speak for myself. Every Neurodivergent person has differing opinions, and when in doubt, trust the individual.

A Person is a Puzzle

So, thanks to certain organizations who shall not be named, I have a visceral reaction to puzzle pieces. I hate everything that they’re supposed to represent, and even more, I hate that they’re everywhere. On t-shirts and buttons and bumper stickers, placed there by people who think that by having an “I love my _______ with autism!” magnet that they’re somehow helping. Some of them are. Most of them aren’t.

Here are a few explanations of what people think the puzzle piece represents:

  • The mystery and complexity of autism
  • “(To) show that autism caused suffering and that children with the disorder would not “fit in” to society.”
  • “The puzzle piece meant they did not fit in.”
  • “(It) symbolizes hope for defeating the disorder.”

None of those things sound good to me. Acting as though autistic people are a “mystery” seems to me like a cop-out. It sounds to me like there’s no point in trying to understand us because we’re too complex. And while I think most of us have suffered at one time or another, suffering is definitely not something that defines me. I’d say that when I don’t “fit in”, it is often because people aren’t willing to get to know me. And I don’t want to defeat autism. It’s a large part of who I am, and I’d rather understand it and accept it into my life than get rid of it.

I think it’s a shame that the puzzle has come to this. I love puzzles and think that the idea of people being made up of pieces is really accurate. Which leads us to…

I’m a Unitarian Universalist, and one thing about us is that we draw from a lot of different sources, especially during services. This morning, a piece was read called “A Person is a Puzzle”, and I immediately knew that it was something that I wanted to talk about. This is the sort of puzzle piece imagery that I want.

We are all puzzles. We are all whole. We are all enough.

 

A Person is a Puzzle

By Mark Mosher DeWolfe

A person is a puzzle. Sometimes from the inside, it feels like some pieces are missing.

Perhaps one we love is no longer with us. Perhaps one talent we desire eludes us. Perhaps a moment that required grace found us clumsy. Sometimes, from the inside, it feels like some pieces are missing.

A person is a puzzle. We are puzzles not only to ourselves but to each other.

A puzzle is a mystery we seek to solve—and the mystery is that we are whole even with our missing pieces. Our missing pieces are empty spaces we might long to fill, empty spaces that make us who we are. The mystery is that we are only what we are—and that what we are is enough.