In 1975, I bought an “autograph” book with my allowance. It had blank multi-colored pages. My first diary! I filled that one and 18 more. Selective mutism made speaking aloud in school impossible. How isolated I was! How I confused my peers because I was QUIET. I was chased, taken advantage of, kicked, punched, put in a closet, tied up … by peers. It’s the taunts which stung the most though. You see, I valued words because for me, they were hard to come by. Using words cruelly was a waste of the power of words and this astounded me. Oh! The emotional constipation when my thoughts, ideas and feelings hit a logjam and words couldn’t get out! Writing freed up those unexpressed words.
In 1999 I got an Aspergers diagnosis.
Time to decipher those diaries and make sense of my perplexing life. On an electric typewriter (with Wite-Out nearby to paint over my mistakes), I began typing what was to be my memoir: Under The Banana Moon, (Living, Loving, Loss and Aspergers), which was published in 2012. At first I sold bits and chunks of the book to dozens of publications. I learned from this that people thought that what I had to say was valid. This silent person had found a means to be heard!
If I’m on a beach, I draw in sand. If I’m in the woods, I take pictures of tree bark. I’ve been known to paint on petrified mushrooms. Art is … decoupaging cut-out images onto wooden boxes. It means putting a mosaic roof on a birdhouse. Or selling my paintings. I show my art annually with AANE and with Good Purpose Gallery in Massachusetts. My paintings have been in books and even on the cover of Debbie Hosseini’s Art of Autism.
My blog has gotten almost 16,000 views in the past year. Pretty good for someone with a handful of real-world contacts. I have readers from the U.S., U.K., France and other far-flung places. Like mountains of snow that have fallen out of the sky, my heaps of words have landed in the world!
One of my challenges is being a non-driver. Sheldon Cooper* said, “I know how to drive. It’s just SCARY. And besides, I always get the pedals mixed up.” I relate to him, and to Brick Heck from The Middle. There are finally real characters portraying what Aspergers is — to me. I’ll never understand intolerance and judgment. What if every flower were red? What if all food was brown? What if people appreciated ALL variances in the human species? What if we accepted without judgment that differences make life meaningful? Kids used to wave their hands in front of my eyes and say: “Yoo hoo! Is anybody in there? She’s in her own world!” Through art and writing, communication is untethered.
I’m in “the world.”
*(Editor’s note) For those who don’t immediately recognize the name, Sheldon Cooper is a character in The Big Bang Theory, played by actor Jim Parsons. Cooper is a theoretical physicist with a genius IQ who struggles with social skills (and utters some of the funniest lines you’ll ever hear!)
STORIES WANTED: If you’ve mentored someone on the autism spectrum and supported him/her in the arts, OR if you’re on the spectrum and have a story about a special mentor who has supported your art, Kim would love to have you send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim’s blog: ravenambition.wordpress.com
Her author’s page: facebook.com/underthebananamoon