Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Poem for World Autism Acceptance Day 2013

It's World Autism Acceptance Day 2013, and as anyone who has children or other family members rather further along the spectrum than is deemed 'normal', once the white coats have their foot in the door, it can be hard to close it again.  When my two autists were small, I always felt torn between wanting to further the understanding of this often debilitating condition, and a longing for privacy which at one point made me consider doing a bunk with all of my kids and hiding out in the middle of Dartmoor.  

One of the studies we became involved in concerned the molecular genetics of autism.  This involved hours of videotaped face-to-face interviews and tests over quite a few years.  (Apparently I achieved the highest ever score on word recognition, but was really rather unimpressive when it came to spatial awareness, though I reckon my prowess in the former category was down to studying Latin to A-level, rather than an indication of innate savant capabilities.)

 Anyhow, this is a poem I wrote a few years ago about the study, when I had to travel to Oxford for a MEG scan. 

The Molecular Genetics of Autism

for J and S

The White Coats know everything
and today they will explain
the hidden mysteries of my brain
so they strip me of all metal,
tape electrodes to my skin,
then they clamp me in a scanner
in a windowless white box
with lead-lined door.

The scanner will illuminate
the wiring in my head. One day
autism will be dead,
the minds of everyone so perfect
they will glide in punts through Oxford
sipping Pimms.

But the scanner’s wires are crossed.
It can’t unveil the wicked fairy
who bestowed those christening gifts,
it fails to break the wheel
that spun the damaged threads
and I leave with straw and silver seeds
still filling up my head. 

a vixen prints herself on drifting mist
and disappears

© Deborah Harvey 2010, 2013

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