I can write. I can speak. Apparently that qualifies me as not being disabled by nearly all who now know I have autism. It is not the end of the story.
I can write much more effectively than I can verbally communicate. I will agree that, on appearances, I am fluent in written form. Sort of. It has taken years of practice, thousands of books having been read, a nearly completed PhD to be where I am. No one has witnessed the redrafting I’ve had to do, the raised eye brows of teachers asking what my work even means, the learning of basic grammar and punctuation at an older age because I mived schools so often.
I had a brilliant vocabulary at a very early age, and I read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at 4yo. BUT I have lacked the social and emotional skills to understand what I am reading. Teachers assumed I was gifted, or very stupid based on this reading ability alone.
As for speaking, yes, I am verbal. I can use big words. I can construct a complete sentence with nouns, verbs and adjectives. But it does not mean I can transmit what is in my mind to anything remotely intelligible to you. You will hear my words, but it takes a while to get the right meaning set. Even then, I need to be fully rested, nutritionally right, clear of mind and emotionally flat. Otherwise, I tend to slur words, use only those pre-mixed sentences I know will work and have tried before, or I become mute.
My muteness is only an issue for my mother. She hates it. She still does not accept, let alone understand, why this would be my default setting. I often resent having to speak. It is a pale, inefficient way for me to deal with others. I can’t wait for mind reading humans to evolve. That will open up the most phenomenal worlds to me.
In my mind, I can speak any language I choose. I conduct the most exquisite orchestral pieces. Andy Warhol and I are best buddies. I am light years beyond Kurt Cobain’s angsty lyrics. Kirkegaard’s masterpiece is being added to by my mind. I. Just. Cannot. Get. It. Out. And it kills me. You hear and see only a minute amount of what swirls inside me. You cannot sense the universe that exists within. And I come across as a multitude of things to different people. Mostly derogatory or slightly demeaning.
I am not trying to big note myself. I am letting you know that while I appear very able, I am in fact crippled with communication issues. After reading this, I don’t blame you for judging me as a liar. I can be free here. I cannot be free when I respond to others’ blog posts, write essays, write notes to teachers, compose emails etc. I set my own agenda here and I can enter my zone, my way. This is the only time I can get any nuggets of written gold out. My only constraint is politeness. And that social expectation is a blog post on its own.
There are other forms of communicating. Creativity. I have no ability but to mimic. I have so many ideas for painting and drawing but it gets overwhelming. It is like a billion souls trying to exit a rotating door at a bank all at once. Mental danger ensues. Mimicing is safe. I can focus on what I am doing with no fear of drowning in my ideas. Sounds weird to write this, but it how it feels.
Music. Requires skill. I have an eye-hand/body part coordination difficulty. If I concentrate with all my might, I can persist at playing an instrument, or typing, mechanical work, or body building. Just not hand writing. So music speaks from my soul, but my body wants no part of it.
I have learned that I learn new skills by mimicing others. This is for the art of communication too. I used to speak like others when I was younger. I never knew why I did it; obvious now. I learned Indonesian by spending a year copying others’ words, intonation and speed. All Indonedians I meet know I’ve lived on Lombok; my accent gives it away. I copied the writing style of May Gibbs, Charles Dickens, others. Nothing original. Even now, most of my verbal communication with my sons is echolia based.
If I have to explain things when I am tired, on a new topic, compose something original or be a ‘friend’, I fall apart. I become mentally anguished and confused. I either repeat well rehearsed responses, copy what others have said or shut down. Oh, and anything emotional is a no-go, verbally and written.
No one lives inside my head with me. I sense when others have an immensely rich soul, but insufficient means to communicate that richness, the complex divinity within. I intuitively understand their angst they hold in their bodies and souls. I sense what is in their heads. And it is then I know I’ve met a kindred, communication challenged soul.