Thursday, 25 August 2011

Guest posts from Melinda Smith..

Hello Scottish Autism Blog Readers!
I will be your guest poster for the next few posts.  My name is Melinda Smith, and I am mother to two boys, aged seven and four. My seven year old has an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
In my 'other life' I am also a poet. For years I have deliberately stayed away from writing about ASD in my poetry (I did not want to be seen as 'trading on' the difficulties faced by my son and our family). However I have been coming by degrees to the realisation that poems from planet autism can actually do some good, because they can help all of us realise we are not alone.  They can also help explain to the uninitiated what our daily lives are like, in a way nothing else (short of, possibly, a documentary film) can do.
So now I have written some autism poems, and I am privileged to be able to share them with you here. 
If you would like to read more, keep checking the Scottish Autism blog :-). After that, come and visit me at CircleQuirk (, where I am stockpiling the poems in advance of their publication as a real world book in April 2012 (Autism Awareness Month). Or follow me on Twitter @MelindaLSmith.
Before we begin, I should acknowledge the support of  ArtsACT, without whose financial support these poems would have been much slower to arrive.
Ready now? Sitting comfortably? Here we go then:

I prefer
serious illness to surprise
computers to my brother
reading number plates to Christmas morning
straight lines
submerging my ears in a warm bath to waterslides
deep fat fryers to matchbox cars
torture to haircuts
libraries to birthday parties
standing ankle-deep in ocean
tenpin bowling to climbing trees
looking at things out of the corner of my eye
Sonic the Hedgehog to family time
death to dentist visits
my mother with her glasses off
plastic wheelie bins to petting zoos
not to see my school friends outside of school
cricket statistics to Toy Story
chewing clothes-pegs to talking
rules to freedom
truth to sarcasm
to be left alone
(c) Melinda Smith 2011
Notes on I prefer
This poem is in the voice of an autistic child aged somewhere between four and nine. 
The poem plays around with a common writing exercise, where you have to write a series of statements in the form of ‘I prefer x to y’. When you try writing one of these poems about yourself it is almost always BORING and unavoidably solipsistic. Try writing one from the point of view of someone else – say, an autistic child – and the result is, hopefully, more worth reading…
This poem will shortly be published in Quadrant magazine.  When it appears there it will have a different title: ‘Wish list for autistic primary schooler’ (I needed to put that information in the title because in the magazine I don’t get to write an explanatory note like I do with a blog post).


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