A.R Sara

A breezy & intense eternal teen with a zest for the here and the now

Neurodiverse

As a mother of two, a volunteer part-time teacher at a local government school, and an author of story books for kids, I find myself invariably drawn towards and reflecting a lot on the subject of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Especially as a parent, as a teacher, it is only natural to be familiarized with this phenomenon and the implications, given the growing incidence of this condition going by the statistics and the rising global awareness towards neuro-diversity.

I started with every intention of penning down my observations, learnings, and thoughts on this, in the form of an article. But as I begun, questions endlessly emerged, that eluded any answers. Questions that begged to be shared.

Neuro-divergent, high functioning autism, low functioning autism, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, socially awkward, special needs, sensory perception disorder, language impairment, Neurodiverse…Weighty terms that I see getting tossed around a lot, in this space.

What must it mean to think differently? So I attempt to don the voice of one.

With words below, I seek to glimpse and offer a glimpse into the world of a neurodivergent.

Questions, concerns, feelings…to attempt to voice them from the viewpoint of an Autistic child.

I thank Maaofallblogs for offering me a platform and publishing this first on their blog.

I am just an ordinary kid,

Assigned a special seat in the social grid.

I feel the same way as you do,

Though in varying degrees, I construe.

I feel happy and I feel blue,

I am as much a human as you are too.

Then why do you seek to brand me?

What is the need to slot me?

In a world so diverse….so finely partitioned,

On religion, race, caste, creed and more,

Why do you attempt to add yet another reason to discriminate?

Just another criteria for hate?

Maybe it’s a phase, maybe it is just the way I’m made.

Before you judge me ask yourself this…

Could my condition be the result of an inadequacy of the society around me?

All that exposure to technology, in its various forms maybe?

All those pesticides in my food and their genetic alteration?

Or is it the environment, with the rising toxic pollution?

Could it be an allergic reaction to a particular food or vaccination?

An excess of audio visual stimulation that sent my sensory perceptions into a disarray?

Or some yet to diagnosed disease that is holding me in sway?

Or is it all just an unfair perception of sorts, an illusion…

A confused interpretation of personality types which were always there,

But just getting noticed and observed in greater detail, in a world more connected and judgmental than ever!

Does the pretext of intervening and trying to help, fuel a booming industry?

Considering this condition demands an evolving body of research with more learnings and findings emerging every day.

Questions from a skeptical, judgmental human after all…

Or is it all in the gene…evolution at its best?

Nature rewiring us to seamlessly adapt to the rapidly changing environment?

 

Maybe it is time to give these questions a brief rest…

Instead, focus and explore deeper into how it must really feel to be different from a neurotypical…for a change,

As we attempt to touch on the conditions… that span a wide range.

So more questions to probe and prod, what it means to be neuro-diverse,

And speculations of what it must be like to be part of this mysterious universe.

Rather than make statements close-ended and terse,

I attempt to express in the form of a free-flowing verse.

You say it may manifest as a socially unacceptable difference, disability, disorder, deficit, impairment, special need, with a random gift, a talent thrown in…into this lot…

With the root cause supposedly pointing to an inadequacy of some shape and sort.

But what if the inadequacy lies…

Not in me but in the adults who unknowingly influenced me in my early life,

What if their work-life balance situation prevented them from engaging in meaningful conversations with me?

Or maintaining the socially normal eye contact?

Or spending quality time with me in the true sense of the phrase?

Or ill-equipped with skills to teach me the three Rs,

Shaping me in my formative years…highlighted as the crucial years,

So maybe I mimicked two and three dimensional characters more,

Sourced by a TV, Tablet, Laptop or Video game,

What better babysitter than technology, if you ask me!

Screen, test and certify me if you must, to identify where on the spectrum I fit in,

If that will help you tailor my learning and nurturing requirements to my special needs, by all means do so,

But then do also answer the question that burns within…

Will you also neatly file away the results, store my records?

What if this is used to profile me as time moves on?

What if it stacks up the odds and not entirely in my favour?

What if I am targeted?

Not today but someday in the future.

I will let that question sink in,

While I steer this a different way,

Considering I digressed from delving into the feelings of one with special needs.

I might not always look you in the eye,

I may even prefer to shy away from telling a lie,

‘Cause what good can a white lie do!

Pointless to hear something that is not true…

When I ask you, I expect you to really tell me how your day was too!

 

How do I focus on your eyes, when I sense, see, hear and feel so much more?

Especially when the words you speak are at odds with the shadows in your eyes,

Or the reflections mirrored in them, that draws my attention to a far away place,

Disorienting me!

So I choose to look away, so I may listen without the distraction of looking you in the eye.

Fidgeting calms my nerves when there is too much emotion for me to take.

Not easy for me to sentiments fake.

Sleep doesn’t come easy,

With so many thoughts churning within, it is so uneasy.

My senses on high alert, seek release in activity you term as hyper.

Yes I sense, see, smell, hear more…

Be it the unpleasant ones like the censure in your eyes, the smirk on your lips, the smell of prejudice you exude, making me break out in goose bumps,

Or the refreshing ones like the nip in the air, the smell of freshly cut grass, the smiles and the laughter, the singing of the fan, the glare of the sunlight, making my heart expand and beat faster,

So much so that…my sense of speech can get locked!

The thoughts within bubble, overflow and collide, seeking expression through actions rather than words. Leaving me with an avalanche of emotions, without the standard outlet, as the common form of expression fails me…leaving me almost speechless, tongue-tied, I find myself devoid of coherent words.

I react and reach out in my own way and wait for you to reciprocate and connect with me at my wavelength…wishful thinking!

Your inability to understand me or your indifference or your disconnect from my reality, makes me snap,

‘Cause I’m human after all and seek a social connect, an innate need to be understood and accepted.

Then it happens…

A meltdown you call it, or a tantrum terrible!

An out of control little human is just not acceptable.

Dismissing this behaviour, as “kids will be kids” might be one end of an extreme,

Might have worked in the good old days,

But seeking to cure us, fix us would be the other end of the extreme surely.

So what would be the middle ground here?

 

Flapping composes me and relaxes and is well meaning,

When my awareness and alertness extends to every fibre of my being,

Repetition is comforting and puts my body in an autopilot mode leaving my mind to wander.

Always distracted, lost in my own world, filled with strange wonder,

You believe, I must be,

But it is just the opposite you see,

I am as aware as can be,

Of the world we both are supposed to inhabit so free…

My behaviour is only as contagious as a smile or a frown,

But mimic me you can, now why is that so bad?

Unfounded fear of contagion should not stop the adults from letting us hangout together,

Then why do they?

Numbers might talk to me as eloquently as words can,

Or it can be just the other way around,

Or maybe I will just let my overwhelming desire for sports do the talking,

Or let my craving to solve puzzles or build with blocks take over!

There will be scenarios where I hear you and respond in the way I understand your words,

But my response is not what you expected.

You find it off tangent and totally off the mark,

While I realize it is your question that is out of line,

Not just metaphors and similes that might throw me off,

But even your direct speech can…depending on the context I hear it in.

You insisting that I am wrong might just overwhelm and stress me out.

Maybe some patience and an action from your end to go with your words, to indicate what you mean, can go a long way!

I lack the empathy to connect and can’t read social cues you say,

What I sense is way too complex for me to process and react the way you expect me to.

My attempts to reach out seem awkward to you.

Why do you jeer at me, mock me and avoid me.

When I lash out, you gang up and label me a menace to the neighborhood and society

And blame it on my parents…and on upbringing.

Where is the empathy now?

How do I trust you enough to accept me and integrate me into the society’s fold?

Closing statements as I seek to bring some order to this flurry of thoughts…

I’m entitled to my quirkiness and my desire for orderliness,

Just as much as you are, to your conventional acceptability, in all fairness.

Our kind is growing the stats say. When I looked up today, it said 1 in 66.

Maybe it is time to approach this differently than as a difference, disorder or a disability that needs a fix.

Study, research, understand and seek to empathize.

The society’s inability to step up to this challenge or rise,

Cannot label our idiosyncrasies as deficits or disorders, and brand us unfairly, with a cause for hate or fear!

So why not strike a balance here?

Between, you, the neuro-typical and we, the neuro-diverse…or is it the other way around?

And trade empathy for empathy…for real,

As we try to adapt to each other’s needs, both equally special.

There will be more of my kind soon,

Treat it as less of a curse and more of a boon…

Respecting the other’s differences and attempting to understand, will go a long way in bridging the gap.

As the world continues to deliberate, ruminate and discuss endlessly about the finer aspects of neuro-diversity and seeks to integrate the neuro-diverse population with the rest of the society, to lead a socially normal and meaningful life, where does “classic autism” (for want of a more appropriate phase) fit in here?

The term “Autism” as it meant half a century ago, before the spectrum and neurology, terms and aspects crept in and the physical disabilities that characterized the classic Autism condition were just dropped from this current equation. The current equation that defines the broad spectrum of conditions that span social behaviour, communication skills, restricted interests, cognitive ability.

I end here with a humble appeal…as we attempt to bring awareness and sensitize the world…let us ensure that due consideration and emphasis is also given to classic Autism that is accompanied with physical disabilities.

~By RajaRajeshwari Nagasigamani, 2017

First published on http://www.maaofallblogs.com/2017/04/8411.html/

RajaRajeshwari N writes story books for children of all ages. She is based out of Bangalore and writes under the pen name of A.R. Sara. She is the author of the “Pachaihara” forest series, “Cat and Dog”, apart from the novella for adults “The prank call”. Her latest release is “Lorkum’s Quest”.
You can find her books on Amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/A.R. Sara/e/B009T38JUC
Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/A.R.Sara.Site
You can learn more about her : https://www.arsarafables.com

“Lorkum’s Quest” book release!

Happy to announce my latest story book “Lorkum’s Quest” is now available as kindle and print versions.
Paperback:
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A spellbinding vacation

A vacation in a glorious city steeped in old world charm…cannot be complete without…shopping at Haziq-N-Mohi ~ a welcoming treasure trove of old and rare books, an enchanting glimpse of Falaknuma palace, leisurely pigeon watching and admiring fascinating rock formations.

Daughters Versus Sons

“Daughters are the best!” A statement I hear from many…
Over and over again, they repeat it like a litany,
They offer underlying reasons oh so many,
All lined with indisputable facts, to that statement lead.
So daughters surely must be the best, I almost did concede…
Albeit with a punch of instinctive reluctance,
But something about it did not make sense,
And not just because I’m a mother of a son too,
Examine this statement I must, projected as being so true.
I’m compelled to debate it, the opposing argument however firm,
On principle I just had to and not on a mere whim,
‘Cause now where does that statement leave him,
With his sibling almost wearing the title of the best!
So I agonized over this question like it was a critical test.
And I carefully made a mental chart,
Began to analyze thoughts straight from my heart.
For a mother, can there be equality in disparity?
I dug deeper into my psyche for clarity.
Can I arrive at a conclusion that is utterly fair?
Follow me on this journey of discovery if it is a predicament you too share…
 ~
A daughter surely offers comfort by just being there,
And oh! she does it with such sweet flair…
Tuned by nature or nurture, to say…exactly what and when I need to hear,
While my confusion and pain he does silently bear,
Till he decodes the riddle and offers a solution very clear,
With his triumphant and winning smile, oh! so very dear!
 ~
She validates and supports my path with affirmatives,
To fix any situation, calmly he comes up with alternatives.
 ~
With clarity and openness, complex feelings she readily shares,
To step out of my little shell…me, he openly dares.
 ~
With patience and approval she shows her unconditional care,
With provocative validation he proclaims me a mother beyond compare.
 ~
She listens and reacts with uncanny understanding;
He instigates me and challenges my familiar line of thinking.
 ~
Her well-intended sarcasm, when prodded, always finds its mark…
He offers blunt criticism so precise and never off the mark!
 ~
She is ever ready to lighten my mood with a jolly walk in the park,
He is ever prepared to pounce on those intending me harm with the swiftness of a shark!
 ~
Mistakes are just that…not to be brooded over, she tells me.
He assures me that silly blunders are what make me as normal as normal can be.
 ~
While she can readily offer a shoulder to cry on,
He can immediately extend a shoulder to lean on.
 ~
Acceptance and praise on me, she generously showers;
Kindness in actions and expressions, without holding back, he freely offers.
 ~
She is always ready to gently explain her differing point of view at length,
While he is a rare combination of compassion and strength.
 ~
He defends me with the same ferocity my stand he challenges,
She supports me with the same wild intensity my word she questions.
 ~
But just when I believed I had slotted and figured them both out,
They go on to surprise me, as my observations they unintentionally flout,
What I thought applied to him, I now see can apply to her too!
And the other way round also does surely hold true.
 ~
I realize for today enough of my perceptions have been minced.
Thoroughly convinced am I, that not now and not ever, will I be thoroughly convinced,
As to which child should wear the title of the best.
So I arrive at a temporary conclusion,
Which I’m sure will be prone to more than one revision.
A daughter may be the best for you,
But a son is the one who can bring out the best in you!
 ~
©2016 RajaRajeshwari N
First published on http://maaofallblogs.com/2016/12/daughter-vs-son.html/

The one

All through your life, you wait
Hoping to meet that special someone…your mate
or for your significant other to reveal that spark within
your expectation is not clearcut perfection
That indeed is not what you fiercely crave
But just for that precious one who can bring out the perfection in you
Make your every moment truly deeply count
Take charge of your happiness and pain
Accept and embrace you as you are, over and over…again
Revel in your quirks and your flaws
Cherish and worship you for the divine inside
To say absolutely what you need to hear
Just the right thing at the precise time
Read your thoughts and grant your wishes
To raise you from the brink of despair
To keep you grounded and steady
When the wings of change threaten to sweep you away
To experience love that is truest of true…
After a long and intense wait it finally hits you
No warning or advance notice did you receive
To prep yourself to meet the face behind that elusive voice
The one you have always been hearing
nameless, faceless, the one that has followed you everywhere
you long for a glimpse of the person behind that seductive tone
that has been haunting you in your dreams
taunting, motivating, promising you love spanning light years and beyond
Then it strikes you like a shooting star
You feel electrified from head to toe
As you come to terms with being possessed by the one
The one you have been seeking all along
The realization rocks you to the core
You need not wander aimlessly any more
‘Cause you have always known that person
On many a occasions the one you did recklessly shun
In your ceaseless quest…your obsession
Oblivious to the one who trailed and guided you in solemn silence
Every day of your life, every single instance
Always on your side, this devoted friend
The wait has finally come to an end
And you are compelled to reach out to comprehend
You touch the reflection in the still lake
Shedding all that was meaningless and fake
Causing ripples of awareness to flow through
As you embrace the shadow so true
You can’t step away from its allure
A connection so simple and pure
With someone who has always been within reach
In your thoughts, dreams and actions…each
Now you know for sure, as that one comes into plain view
Yes…its always been YOU!

 

©2017 RajaRajeshwari N

Kindle on the go!

I have a collection of books from decades ago, which I just cannot part with. I have developed a compulsive habit of carrying at least a couple of books with me everywhere I go. It counters my impulsive trait to splurge on books at every book shop I pass by. Yes, the smell and feel of a book unquestionably add to the exquisite reading experience.
But for long distance travel I have come to rely on a Kindle, as it helps keep the packing light, serves as a reality check on my temptation to shop at every book store that meets my eye and also eliminates the need to safeguard my prized possessions (my books) from folks who want to casually borrow them. 🙂
I have managed to temporarily forgo the overall experience, to have a digital library at my disposal when I am travelling and to be able to savour at least the words, sans the touch, feel or smell (which my mind attempts to conjure up and compensate anyway 🙂

Here’s a verse to go with my love for reading…

Yes, I collect, cherish and treasure all my books,
Not just for their unforgettable characters and plots with twists and hooks,
But also for their lingering smells and distinguished looks,
Be they thriller, romance, sci-fi or guide books,
Turning pages makes me dream of flowing summer brooks,
Their unique textures tease and soothe my finger tips,
As I drink in the words with small measured sips,
Yes, I am an ardent collector of the written word,
I just don’t care if that is absurd,
I read with my senses to watch the lines come alive,
Even as into books of all sizes, shapes and smells, I deep dive,
Wonderful books from over many a decade ago,
They elegantly grace my humble shelves, high and low,
I like to carry at least one everywhere I go,
They can make time go incredibly fast or deliciously slow,
Some years ago while travelling a long long way,
I picked up an enticing hardbound, to indulge in my usual way,
But then, to my frightful and utter dismay,
I felt my eyes roll and my head sway,
I found I could not proceed even past a single line,
Didn’t matter whether the road was rocky or fine,
Reading from any book on the go,
Just made me feel faint and in sickness bow,
I was stricken as this condition lasted long,
I tried to compensate listening to song after song,
Swiping messages to images, I tried them all,
But that didn’t help at all,
It just made the time painfully crawl,
During one such never ending dull commute,
When the need to read was painfully acute,
I rummaged my large bag for at least the feel of a book,
A hard or a softbound that may be tucked away in any nook,
As a spark of hope it did rekindle
To my surprise, what should my hands land on…but a kindle,
An almost forgotten gift,
And an idea clicked rather swift,
I dropped my reservations a bit,
Starting it up, I happily browsed the titles preloaded,
Without a thought for my wobbly head,
Till I picked one I could comfortably read,
And to snap the device shut, I felt no need,
‘Cause lo behold! my crown felt just swell,
No sign of the dreadfully sickly dizzy spell,
Like a thirsty desert wanderer at a fountain of limitless stories,
I sipped, then gulped the words, line after line, swiping page after page,
My constitution cooperated, calm and sage,
My mind feasted on the words in silent raphsody!
Not perfect but nevertheless a welcome remedy,
As a travel companion, a kindle should nicely do,
To chase away any hint of blue,
With an entire library of stories old and new,
To paint my thoughts in many a hue,
The smell, touch and feel of a book I was willing to forgo,
While on the go!
So that I can continue to feed my imagination,
Regardless of my journey or my destination!

©2017 RajaRajeshwari N

 

 

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