The Stigma of Autism

Young, maybe 6, cocooned in protected warmth
innocence, love and laughter are child’s things
Autism shattering everything into small pieces
now an outcast, no one understands

7, in front of a psychiatrist, seems school knows best
1970, Autisms’ a mystery, unheard of
no diagnosis, no institution, no label, no sense,
school thinks Health Camp might be best

Health Camps full of confused, anxious children
misfits unable to tolerate normal childhood
sent to find peace, laughter and strength in each other
how many I wonder were Autistic just like me?

Cold, calculating, distant father persecutes
doesn’t want a son who’s clumsy, always bullied
the shame on a man who only understands perfection
your oppression is far more damaging than my peers

It never stopped this thing called Autism
misunderstood words and actions few comprehend
anxiety, depression, alcohol, drugs, crime, what a waster!
a lifestyle indicative of low self esteem

Epilepsy and brain surgery, daunting thoughts
huge waiting list, Government inaction, pending elections
perfect opportunity to show the world hidden strengths
TV appearance, newspaper stories, fight, fight, fight, fight

I won; I beat them all, the Government, epilepsy and my own inadequacies
strength, pride and confidence now my allies
new career, new life, new me
now helping others by fighting to reduce stigma and discrimination

Copyright © 2010 Tipene Taylor

Dysthymia

D         don’t mind the melancholic meanderings
of my psyche,  festooned with fervent ranting’s;
water-coloured lines distilled over time.
Y         you see what you want to see.  I
have no control of yours.  my only comfort is
the willingness to breathe life into otherwise
contrived lives.
S          see (ing) through opaque, leaded glass
cathedrals of coloured splendor, give
rise to the muse in me.  the sun in words
rises in the east with the future
and time.
T          the yew – an ancient tree.  synonymous
with dead wood and revered branches
of old. wisdom once gained, long lost
on mass hysteria.  I digress.
H         hunger pains
perverted by the cruelness of lust
rage and longing;  layering
serves to cushion psychic blows.
Y         yearning only serves to belittle
normality; a figment of the imagination.
feeling isolated from the masses is probably
a blessing in disguise.
M         madness,  invites
a semblance of restored faith to jaded
emotional jigsaw puzzles.  sequestered
identities, like my idiosyncrasies.  mundane
existence is tangible evidence that
conflict earns respect and honour
akin to martyrdom.  subjugation.
I           intelligence? Is nothing more than that of
the Descartes and Hippocrates of yester-world,  doomed.
archangel’s like Michael are
condemned by their own father;  there are no
mother’s in sight.
A         a deliberate oversight in my book.
It doesn’t matter at the end of the day;
mental illness is like God,  everywhere,
but it’s only called dysthymia on a bad day.

Copyright  © 2009, Jodine Derena Butler.

Poem inspired by Like Minds Like Mine, ReTHiNK the Meaning of Madness, and the Respond-Response Community Art Project, ‘What’s On You’re Plate’.

CONTRIBUTORS NOTE:
Jodine Derena Butler grew up on various farms all over the North Island of New Zealand.  She now lives in Cairns, Queensland, Australia with her husband.  She has two adult daughters and three grandsons.  Her poems have been published in Side Stream, Blackmail Press, Live Lines Anthology, Tracks Magazine and others. She has a background in social work and mental health and loves to dabble in the Arts.