Chalk Word Lines of Separation by Judy Endow

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“Sneaky words, said with a smile,
While holding a piece of chalk,
To draw the dividing line,
Made by words,
Sounding alright on the surface,
But laden with,
Otherness.
Less Than
Different
Not US
And sometimes Not Quite Human

We are the people you call

  • Special
  • Low Functioning
  • High Functioning

You say we are in need of a

  • Peer Buddy
  • Peer Pal
  • Good Friend from Mrs. Jones Program

We are the

  • Inclusion Student
  • The community service hours other kids need

We sit

  • At the Peer Buddies lunch table
  • The Special Ed table in the Inclusion Room
  • On the Special Ed bench waiting for our short bus

During the school day you will find us in the

  • Inclusion Room (when it is our turn because they can only take one of us at a time)
  • Cognitively Delayed Room
  • Behavior Room
  • Emotionally Disturbed Room
  • EBD Room (Emotionally Behaviorally Disturbed)
  • Special Ed Room
  • Special Needs Room

We are so doggone “special” that after school we attend

  • Special Olympics
  • Special Arts
  • Special Night at the YMCA
  • Special Needs Social Group

Where every participant is just as special
And those who are not special are our helpers

 When we grow up we live in

  • Special Housing
  • Some of us in Section 8 rentals
  • Some in group homes
  • Some in county care facilities
  • Some of us are so special that there isn’t even a special enough place for us so we stay living with our parents.
  • Some of us are not quite special enough to get on a housing list and yet cannot maintain on our own so we stay living with our parents.

As adults too many of us spend our days

  • In Special Programs (if our county has them)
  • At ARC (if our town has an ARC)
  • At Sheltered Workshops (if one is available)
  • In Supported Employment (if we qualify)
  • Looking for a job (on the days we are able to)
  • On the couch in our parent’s home (because other options are not available)

Because we are so deficient
In ever so many ways
Whenever we do something ordinary
like zip up our jacket, ride a horse, or answer Jeopardy questions you describe us as

  • Awesome
  • An Inspiration

I don’t understand this. If my friends and I are such awesome inspirations to the rest of you

  • Why is it that we are in two distinct groups – US and THEM?
  • Why is it that your group always holds the chalk?
  • Why do you keep using your chalk to draw lines that divide us?
  • Why do you want me on the other side of your line – away from you?
  • And why do you think this is good?”

By Judy Endow

This is just an abstract from her amazing poem, “Chalk word lines of separation”, I encourage you to read it in its entirety on her blog site at http://www.judyendow.com/advocacy/chalk-word-lines-of-separation/

Different on the Inside by Susan Golubock part 2

Artwork by Loui Jover

Artwork by Loui Jover

Remember those awkward,

Social moments,

As an adolescent,

Or pre-adolescent,

When you were trying,

To fit in,

But didn’t really know,

What was in?

Or what was expected?

So you stood there,

In conspicuous silence,

Rehearsing everything ,

You wanted to say,

Waiting for the chance,

To speak,

Then blurted out,

Some untimely statement.

Or more,

Than you really intended,

To say?

Not knowing when,

Or how to stop?

Imagine having those moments,

Occur,

Regularly,

With family,

Friends,

And strangers alike.

Your best defense,

Is to memorize small talk,

Or keep your mouth shut,

And let others talk,

About themselves.

Meanwhile you struggle,

To filter out,

The background noise,

They so easily,

Seem to ignore,

Processing about 50%,

Of what they say.

Then there’s the feeling of panic,

When the dreaded question appears,

Requiring you to suddenly shift,

From processing to productive,

Without the time you need,

To do it.

It makes you wonder,

When it’s so difficult,

Why,

So many people,

Consider socializing,

To be,

So much,

Fun.

Different on the Inside by Susan Golubock

Different on the Inside. By Susan Golubock

Artwork by Tran Nguyen

Artwork by Tran Nguyen

“To look at us,

You and I appear very much the same.

Yet I have learned that we experience life,

And therefore view our experiences,

Very differently.

I have learned that I just don’t think like you,

No matter how hard I try,

And believe me I have.

My nervous system seems to be,

Configured differently.

I’ve learned to do,

What you do,

At least the mechanics of it,

But I don’t understand,

Why you do it.

I’ve memorized the words you use,

And can repeat them fluently.

Figuring out what you mean,

And why you say them,

Is the hard part.

I process words literally,

Concretely,

And naively,

Which often leaves me baffled,

And confused.

I thought that by pretending,

To BE you,

I would someday,

Understand you.

But I don’t.

Any more than you understand me.

There are times when I join in,

With you,

And truly enjoy,

Interacting with you,

But I rarely feel that I belong.

I can focus on you,

Or I can focus on me,

But understanding the complexity,

Of relationships,

Is very much beyond me.

There are times when I can connect,

With my feelings or yours,

But never both,

At the same time.

And some emotions not at all.

There are times when,

I really think,

I understand you,

Then you change,

And I don’t.

And even though,

I have stopped,

Trying,

To BE like you,

I haven’t stopped,

Trying,

To understand you.

It would mean a lot to me,

If you would try,

Just for a little while,

To understand,

What it must be like,

To be ME.”

This is an abstract from the poem “Different on the Inside” by Susan Golubock.

“Never let them tell you that silence isn’t beautiful”

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“I read her eyes like paragraphs

And her tears like chapters,

For she didn’t have much to say,

With words,

But rather,

Silence.

And never let them tell you,

That silence,

Isn’t beautiful.

For silence is what happens,

When words fall asleep

And you must carry,

The belief,

That one day,

They will,

Wake up,

Inside of you.”

Words by Christopher Poindexter.

Artwork by Daniela Hallgren.

 

“My body is full of stars that never learned their names”.

Artwork by Carne Griffit

Artwork by Carne Griffit

“I am filled with things and I battle feelings,

I have never wanted to exist inside of me.

I lack too much confidence and I carry,

Too much sadness,

And my body is full of stars,

That never learned their names.

I wear my insecurities,

Like pockets,

And I fill them,

With my fears,

And my hands are growing tired,

From reaching down into them to hold,

The feeling of being afraid.

I am afraid.

Always,

Afraid.

Afraid like chimes,

When the wind lips,

Are sealed.

Afraid like your eyes,

When the stars,

Fall asleep in the black.

Afraid like dreams,

When they realize they are just dreams,

And that reality,

Is that one scar that will never,

Fade away.

I am,

Terrified.

Terrified that the things inside me,

Are the things that will keep me,

From ever finding a home,

Inside someone else.”

Words by Christopher Poindexter. Artwork by Carne Griffit.

Sensing the Invisible Tear

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Some people say that having Asperger’s Syndrome / High Functioning Autism,

Makes them feel as if they are looking at the world ,

From behind a wall of glass.

That they are within it,

Yet somehow  still apart,

That they can see the world,

But just  can’t bear to touch it.

Yet still they feel the world,

In ways. that other people,

Rarely seem  to do.

Much like  the way a blind person,

Who cannot see a tear,

Never the less senses,

The slowly sinking sadness,

Of that which is invisible,

To them,

And,

Yet  it is,

So near.