Chalk Word Lines of Separation by Judy Endow

chalk_outline_by_madam_top_hat-

“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.

I will be your compass

10458353_795762430455693_23054653385126612_n

I look at you today,

And I know that although,

You’ve grown larger,

Your world has grown smaller,

Instead of expanding,

Yourself outwards,

You’re now shrinking,

Hunkering down,

Beneath your own skin,

So wary,

Of being bitten and torn,

By the words of others,

Hiding your scars,

As you return home to me daily,

Endlessly dazed and confused,

By the actions committed,

Against you,

The ones that make you feel stupid,

Lonely and small,

You are none of those things,

No,

Not at all.

You are lovely,

Intelligent,

And brave enough,

To go out into a world,

Every day,

In which you hold,

No internal compass,

No way to navigate,

The sea of another’s intent.

But I am here for you,

My darling girl,

And I will be your compass,

If you’ll let me.

Autism – Let Them Shine

the seventh sense

They wait to plead their case,

Unknown,

Cast aside,

I’d love,

To see their faces,

Can we spare the light?

These beautiful minds,

Trapped inside,

Bring them to life,

Let them shine,

So dark,

But I see sparks,

We gotta let them flame,

Let them speak their name,

Let them reach up to the clouds,

Where stars flicker in the distance,

So lonely out in space,

They sing out,

But we’re not listening,

‘Cause we don’t see their face,

But we can’t let them die,

Not when we can make them high,

Hold them like the little miracles,

That live inside,

Let them shine,

Let them live,

Let them read,

Let them grow,

Let them love,

Hold them close,

Let them know,

They’ll get through the darkness,

Ordinary people,

Can be hero’s,

Don’t blow out their light,

Cause they can’t eat if we don’t feed them,

They can’t read if we don’t teach them,

There is no life,

If we just hide them,

Don’t just let them die.

Let them shine,

Let them shine on,

Be an ordinary hero,

And let them shine on.

These words are not my own. They are lyrics adapted from John Legends  beautiful song “Shine”. Although this song wasn’t written about Autism, the moment I heard it, it made me think of my son and of all the other children with Autism out there who deserve to be treated with love, understanding, respect and most importantly, to be allowed to “shine”.  It also made me think of all the ordinary every day Autism parents, the everyday, ordinary hero’s, who do what they do, not out of a sense of duty, but out of  pure love for their children.

You will always be my hero’s for helping your children to shine.