Didn’t know I had a petard, and here I am hoist with it

Grenade, Bomb, War, Weapon, DangerI had to look petard up: a small bomb apparently.  As for being hoist on/by/with it, we have Shakespeare to thank for that one.  All I knew was that it meant, roughly, to fall into one’s own trap, and that I’ve certainly done this week.

Embarrassed, but trying hard to be authentic, so…

Allow me to explain.

A few weeks ago I was asked to take on a pair of new students – young brothers who shared a genetic condition with their mother.  “Multi-systemic” I was told, so the effects of this syndrome involve skin, joints, brain and just about any part of the body you can think of.  The words ‘complex learning difficulties’ were also mentioned.

To be honest, I was almost at full stretch before these lads appeared on the scene.  Planning two lots of lessons in maths and English tailored to their particular mix of strengths (very high intelligence) and challenges, as well as homework each week would, I knew, take at least an entire day.  Then there was the teaching itself, which I could only just slot in amongst my other young pupils.  Everything logical in my mind was screaming, “No, don’t do it!  What about that work/life balance you wanted?  You are past retirement age, you know.  And this lady wants you to work on right through the summer holidays.  When will you get to see the family?”

But the kids were lovely.  Finding ways of working around their difficulties would be fascinating – previously uncharted territory, the type of challenge I thrive on.  They weren’t fitting into schools.  Their constant pain and exhaustion, as a result of the syndrome, was too much for them when combined with a normal school day.  The mother, though, was being threatened by the authorities for not providing sufficient education.

I said, ‘Yes’.

Of course I did.

Writing, Boy, Child, Student, KidFor a couple of weeks it went fine.  Yes, I did end up doing lesson prep all through the weekends but they seemed to be progressing well and I was enjoying working with them.  Then this week they appeared full of smiles but without homework.  A casual ‘lost it somewhere in my room’ from one and ‘I didn’t realise you wanted me to do that’ from the other.

Inwardly I was irritated.  The homework sheets had taken me ages to prepare.  The work I’d planned for this week followed on from what they were meant to have done.  Their mother had particularly requested homework.  It was meant to protect her from being taken to court… and blah, blah, blah.

Outwardly, I smiled, suggested mildly that maybe they could try to get it done for the following week and carried on.  The lessons went fine and I went to bed that night feeling very happy.

Oh I know at least one of my readers knows exactly what’s coming!

I woke up the next morning to a text from the children’s mother.  Both of them had told her I was ‘grumpy’ during their lessons.  She wondered what was wrong.

I was mortified.  The lessons had (I thought) been lovely – lots of laughter and progress.  Was I just a delusional old bat?  Had I ended up like those elderly lady teachers I remembered from my own school days – miserable and past it?  Was it time to stop and give up – to sit in a rocking chair knitting all day?

I flashed a quick message back, saying I had been disappointed that they’d not bothered with the homework, but wasn’t aware of being grumpy about it; that I’d tried hard to keep the work lively and enjoyable and so forth.

Then I sat and thought.

Why was I choosing to be so upset by this?  Why had this incident shown up in my life?  What did it have to teach me?

The reply came almost at once, in a further message from the children’s mum.  She hadn’t wanted to upset me.  She just felt she had to be authentic and tell me their reaction.  It wasn’t my words or actions they had reacted to, it was my feelings.  They were, she added, extremely sensitive and picked up on the energy people projected.

Heart, Love, Idea, Light BulbAh.

Got it.

That heart-based telepathy thing.

So I thanked her – and the universe – for providing me with that reminder.  I told her about my last blog post, on exactly this subject, and promised to attempt to be more open and authentic in future.

See what I mean about being hoist with my own petard?  This communicating-from-the-heart business is not easy.  I’m glad to have these two young teachers.  Like all good teachers, they’ve appeared just as the student is ready 🙂

 

The Symptoms of Normalism

Distribution, Normal, StatisticsNot easy, but I’m trying, for a moment, to look at my tribe – the people who regard themselves as ‘normal’ or ‘neuro-typical’ – from the outside.  I’m trying to see us from the perspective of those Version 2.0 people who are wired differently.  (I’ve reverted to my ‘Version 2.0’ label because not all of them are on the autistic spectrum as it is normally described.  Many are – but there are others, variously called ‘sensitives’, or ’empaths’ or those with various diagnoses or descriptions of differentness, and I wish to include them all.)

Disclaimer:  I use the term ‘Normal’ throughout this article in a somewhat ironic sense.  I personally consider terms like ‘normal’ and ‘disordered’ to be chauvinistic and symptomatic of what is wrong with common assumptions in our society.  Also, I am a person with ‘Normalism’ and I love words.  I can’t imagine life without their richness and beauty.  This post is just a thought experiment, okay?

 

Probably the most difficult aspect of Normals to comprehend is the disparity between what they say and what they actually feel or think.

“No, it looks great on you, honestly.”

(‘It would actually suit someone twenty years younger much better, but I understand you’re going through a bit of a mid-life crisis and if it makes you feel good to wear it, that’s fine by me.’)

“Oh it’s nothing.  Really not worth reading – just something I scribbled off last night.”

(‘I poured my heart and soul into these words, but I’m terrified you won’t understand and will dismiss them as trivial or stupid, so I’m pretending it’s not important to me in order to shield myself in advance from any critical comments you may make.  Anything hurtful you say will still upset me deeply, though.’)

“Well who’s the teacher’s pet, then?”

(‘I feel envious of the praise you received for that assignment and my inability to produce anything that good.  I am therefore attempting to make you feel uncomfortable.  It is my hope that my negative reaction to your success will encourage you to try less hard in the future, thus letting me gain more approval from the teacher.’)

Professor, Mathematician, Scientists“It’s important for you to get an expert opinion.”

(‘You are inferior.  You are incapable of reaching a satisfactory answer, due to the prejudices and fixed ideas lodged in your brain.  There are far better individuals than you whose prejudices and fixed ideas come for other individuals with letters after their names.  These people know what is best for you, despite not knowing a great deal about you.  I know this because I learned it from experts.’)

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’m aware as I write this that I live in southern England, an area particularly renowned for this kind of double-speak.  Northern Brits, Americans and Australians, for example, would readily assert that they are far more inclined towards plain speaking, calling-a-spade-a-spade and otherwise using spoken language to express what they feel.  Really?  Try, for just one conversation, to avoid any sarcasm, any ironic aside, any well-meant but artificial compliment, any indication that you sort-of agree, despite the fact that you don’t, or any self-depreciating statements that are not in total resonance with what you feel.

Silver Leaf, Lunaria, SilberlingYou’ll argue, perhaps – you Normals – that without such social niceties, speech would be brutal, hard and cold.  People would be offended.  They might take against you.  They might (this is the greatest fear) not flatter and praise you in return.  Normals require an almost constant drip-feed of approval.  Without this, paranoia sets in.  That’s why Normals struggle in their contact with the other tribes.  The Asperger guy is not going to tell you that you look good, that it’s great to see you, that he’s glad you came.  You’re there; he’s there.  No more to be said.  Normals are needy, though.  They want that stuff.  They’ll cheerfully relinquish honesty to get it.

In a previous post I mentioned the 7 year-old Version 2.0 child who came to me distraught after a quarrel with his friend.  “She told me she was sorry,” he said, “but I can see into her heart and that isn’t the feeling that’s there.”
It wasn’t the quarrel that had upset him, but the fact that his friend didn’t respect him enough to share her heartfelt feelings. She insulted him by feigning an apology.

If the Version 2.0 people can ‘see into someone’s heart’ (all this is explained far better in the previous post, written by The Snacking Sage and in Suzy Miller’s important book ‘Awesomism’), nothing but honesty will do.

The small child who asks, “Why are you sad, Mummy?” and is told, “I’m not sad, dear.  I’m fine,” by a mother who attempts to conceal the truth because she doesn’t want to worry him will – obviously – worry all the more if he knows he’s being lied to.

Looking Up, Hope, Black White, PortraitThere are more of these Others – these Non-Normals – than might be imagined.   They are way-showers.  They can teach Normals – if we’ll truly stop chattering and listen to their silence – to discard the fake conversation and to return to the openness that is a natural by-product of telepathic communication.

Yes, I can see that there would be difficulties and challenges, but ultimately, aren’t we all yearning for greater transparency?  Aren’t we, after all, sick to death of being lied to and cheated by those in authority, by multi-nationals who mislead us for their own profits, by those who claim to be acting in our ‘best interests’?  It’s worth considering that there are many individuals who are similarly sick of the lack of honesty in ‘Normal’ social interaction.

This is only a personal viewpoint, but I suspect the ‘shift’ that occurred around 2012 involved a fundamental change of mindset amongst humanity – a desire to move beyond ‘them and us’ towards a fairness and openness based on personal responsibility, not the imposition of rules by a corrupt leadership.  That could work, if only we could communicate heart to heart.

 

Speaking without words.

The Snacking Sage – one of the people who regularly comments on my blog – generously agreed to try to explain from the ‘inside’ of autism how their telepathic form of communication works.

I think it’s an excellent attempt and I can imagine how hard it was for him to put across such ideas in a way of communication which, to him, is a ‘second language’.

Thank you so much Sage. I hope others will find it as interesting as I do. – Jan

The Snacking Sage

(I’m going to ramble, as I said, I think something broke inside I can’t seem to stop the flow of thought seeping everywhere oh, and I never learned ‘proper’ essay structure. Maybe someone should edit this and repost when I am done with it?)

So Some people have been wondering just what goes on inside the minds of those people who are called “autistic” by some. And seeing as I am one of them, We all have a rare opportunity here. Be it by chance or fate, Things have eventuated that allow me to communicate with people now. The Irony here is not lost on me. But That is irrelevant. For the first time in a very long time, I will speak as I do in my mind. I’m taking my “filter” (aka the sage you ‘know’) off for this. I can be rather scary, so be warned. No allowance…

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