Honorable Mention TOKYO-2017 Portfolio / Fine Art_PO
On The Spectrum
Ever since I was a boy I noticed that I seemed to see and experience things differently than most people around me. I seemed to be able to see patterns and details that other people wouldn’t or couldn’t see. I also noticed that I had more difficulty connecting with other people. There seemed to be rules of relationships and engagement that others knew intuitively but that were foreign and puzzling to me.
In my fifth decade I was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome. With that, a great many of my life experiences and history made sense and fell into place like so many puzzle pieces.
Autism is known as a spectrum condition, that is, there is a set of defining characteristics such as difficulty in making eye contact, sensitivity to sound and touch, sheer brilliance, genius and creativity, lack of social awareness, and many others. However, no one on the spectrum will possess all of the characteristics. There is a saying in the community, that when you have met one person on the spectrum, you have met one person on the spectrum.
Temple Grandin, one of the most well known and accomplished autistic persons has said that we on the spectrum are like Martian anthropologists, we find ourselves here on Earth, and then we spend the rest of our time trying to figure out the stupid rules. (She actually did not say "stupid", that was my addition ...)
Sometimes life has been very tough on the spectrum, but I would not trade it for anything. For me personally, the benefits and strengths have outweighed the challenges and difficulties. I really like my differentness. Besides, Asperger’s is not a disease that you have, like the flu or cancer. It is part of who you are. “Cure it”, and you will not longer be the same person, but someone else completely. The genius and superpowers most certainly lost.
With this project, I have attempted to show what it feels like to be, to live on the spectrum, here on Earth.
It is my hope that this photo project may help parents of children on the spectrum visualize a bit more of their child’s inner life.