I am Joel Ashton-Fogle, an Early Childhood Educator, writer, musician and I’m Autistic. I'm also a graduate student in Autism and Behavioural Sciences. I thought it might be fun to write a poem using the vocabulary we learn as future behavioural analysts and also comment from my perspective as a client. I write most of my poems in "free-verse" but this one is structured in meter and rhyme, fitting into the perception that people with autism prefer structured, mathematical patterns (this stereotype is not my personal experience). I hope you like it. It's my own neurodivergent insight into some of the components of "excesses and deficits" within autism practice.
Some fancy behavioural lingo from an ‘Autistic’
Written by Joel Ashton-Fogle and Adeen Fogle
Am I a list of deficits in verbal cues and social rules?
Behaviours excessive, inexpressive or aggressive?
Beginning with my stimming, am I brimmingly obsessive?
Flapping hands and tapping knees disturbingly intensively?
Well, I would frame these differently in my own reactivity.
Reflecting introspectively, I think that I’m expressive.
Attempts to try to modify can nullify identity
though meant to be sufficiently conducted beneficently.
Some efforts may address a mess of social impropriety
But others deconstruct me with modalities oppressive.
With scientific data set and peer-review, an epithet
of modifying plans are set to rearrange my alphabet
or repertoire of heavyset habitual excesses.
Reinforcers everywhere so I comply and modify.
Behavioural strategies composed and posed most typically.
And not unlike my canine friend, I get rewarded in the end
if I perform as normative and act more neurotypically.
Lets’ cut this fancy language now. Enough conforming, anyhow.
I’m tired and stressed, my mind is messed. I’m overwhelmed. I feel oppressed.
I’m under magnifying glass in efforts to appease and pass.
So, let me stim or look away or flap my arms and overplay.
Or be alone and quite content. Obsessing is my non-event.
I do not mean these to offend. Some interventions condescend
to shape me and to make me be a fake, an ‘un-authentic’ me.
So, unapologetically I pose the pros of equity
To celebrate divergency, accommodate with empathy,
Relating more inclusively and varied in society.
I see my neighbors with small children suddenly not being able to both leave the house at the same time. They no longer have access to childcare for date night. Their extended families are no longer able to support them. They are utterly alone. Their small children want to run wild, as children do in their effort to innocently learn and experience the world, so they escape from the house without parent awareness.
The stress is obvious on their faces and in their voices during driveway chats. I feel their pain, I can empathize. Because as parents of an autistic child, now 17 years old, we've been living in isolation for 17 years. This is nothing new to us, but they are experiencing our normal.