Study of the world about me – as well as that between my ears – convinces me that we have no idea the extent to which we evaluate humans based on how they look. We make assumptions all the time that outsides of a person (physique, accent, behaviors) accurately reveal their insides. What that person wants. How smart that person is. Who that person is, essentially.
Owen is here to remind us of how little we actually know, of even the most basic kind of knowing, about him, or possibly anyone else.
i am an autistic person who loves plastic. the fact is that the plastic loves me. i actually hate playing with plastic. but I have no ability to stop my hands. i think that kind of stinks. you think you know who I am. but the fact is that that is not the real me. the real me is buried under all the behaviors. just remember that the next time you see me.
i believe i will overcome the obsession. i will no longer be plastic man.
Owen wrote this in response to a call for articles on the topic of sensory experience. It was published in the volume 25, Spring 2019 edition of The Communicator, a publication of the Autism National Committee. A few corrections were made of errors caused by involuntary moments, and spaces were added between sentences for clarity, otherwise it is as originally typed by the author, using supported communication. In supported communication the partner resists movements by the typer, and this resistance and emotional support allows a person with movement challenges to focus his movement and get his words down. For Owen to generate a capital letter requires a three step process with caps lock. He doesn’t always bother with them. Getting his body to sit still, and his hand to follow the direction of his mind is more important, most of the time.
I so love reading Owen Stories. Whether he can believe it or not, his struggles are not uncommon in many ways, and I find inspiration in his fortitude and reflectiveness.
I sometimes notice that it can be tricky to determine how to respond to the challenges of child of a broken home. It can be unclear if his acting out is normal, requiring common disciplinary response, or a result of the unfortunate circumstances requiring compassion and more gentleness. I have a friend with a teenage son with epilepsy, which was extremely debilitating when he was a pre-teen. It was difficult to tell if his contrariness was to be disciplined or tolerated with understanding and compassion.
I struggle with my own compulsions of some similarity and some differences to Owens. One similarity is that they distance me from people and opportunity to fix misunderstandings.
While his challenges are both different and to a greater degree than most, the place to learn the lessons offered is a place we all share.
Just some reactive thoughts…..
His work touches me and inspires me. I hope that he can know that through all of the mental clutter that his body creates, by sharing his story he is doing Good in the world.
Owen, this is great. I really enjoyed reading it. I thought it was so cool how you personified the plastic. You gave it a voice, kind of as a symbol of finding your own voice. Keep writing and piecing your own voice together. We want to hear it!