All posts by Autistic writing

About Autistic writing

Im 46, autistic and vocal about it, a specialist autism mentor in higher education, embarking on my MEd in adult autism, autistic advocate and campaigner, writer and co-founder of asP - the autism strategy partnership #differentnotdamaged #askaboutasP

First days…

It’s an amazing feeling, that first moment of contact, the first glimpse as the ramp of the horsebox is unfastened and lowered, hitting the ground with a heavy thump. The smell of sweat and ammonia released in a puff of warm air, the sound of hoofs against the wooden boarded floor, and the soft nickering of tentative communication. Stepping up the ramp and grasping the aluminium divider, pulling the retaining pin and swinging the hinged partition back I get my first look at the newcomer. Beautiful and scruffy at the same time the yearling colt steamed from the heat of the lorry and the stress of the journey, muscles bunched like coiled springs, ready to unleash the raw, animal power that even as a youngster, this beast had at his disposal. He was big for a yearling, well put together, with clean limbs and a well shaped back and neck. Red and white, not uncommon colours for the breed, but in beautiful proportions marking him out as one to watch in the ring, his size and shape and markings were what had first caught my eye when I saw his photos.

He was unhandled beyond the effort to get him onto the horsebox. He didn’t fit the criteria of his breeders, so he was a cast off, but there was little doubt that in the right hands he had a lot of potential, and his bloodlines confirmed that initial assessment. I’d paid top dollar for what was essentially a reject, but I had an instinct for these things picked up over years of experience and time spent with some of the finest horses the World has known. Those first few moments confirmed my initial instincts, that this little chap was something a bit special, something with that elusive secret ingredient that makes a horse stand on and more importantly makes a judge take a second look in the competition ring. There was a purpose to the purchase, this wasn’t a heart ruling the head moment. This youngster was the start of something that would grow and flourish and become not just sustainable, but worthwhile for the development of a different type of sports horse. One based more firmly on the ‘cob’ type that had been overlooked as nothing but a throwback to the days of horses being beasts of burden. One that elevated the cob cross to the status of the Irish sports horse as a multipurpose competition animal. Bred to succeed in any form of equestrian competition. 

He clattered down the ramp, leaping off the end into the field of lush summer meadow grass and as he flicked his back legs, bucking and squealing, galloping to the hedgeline before lifting his head and tail and trotting along the fence as though he owned the place I smiled, happy with my choice and certain that I had made the right decision….



Waking up, the first conscious breath of the day drawn painfully through cracked lips, rolling over to silence the alarm, wincing as joints creak and twist. Eyes closed, the lids barriers against the World outside, protecting the senses from the onslaught that comes every day, all day, overwhelming and shattering, splintering the already fractured mind that sits behind the eyes. The brutalising reality of the combination of physical pain and mental torment, never a possibility or respite, no option to relieve the ongoing suffering. 

“If I was a dog they’d have put me down years ago! I’m fit for nothing and I can’t remember the last time I found any pleasure in a new day. If I had the strength and resolve I’d do it my bloody self but I couldn’t even get that right! I’m finished, done, I can’t go on like this….”

The girl sighed, her eyes heavy with lack of sleep, moistened by tears that had long ago stopped falling. She looked up from the chair she had spent the night sitting in at the older mans bedside ;

“Come on Dad, don’t be like that, the snookers on later, you like the snooker!”

She tried to force the smile on her lips into something other than a rictus of pain but she struggled to remember the last time she smiled for real. A moments weakness allowed her mind to voice the thoughts she fought against every time they had this conversation.

‘Maybe he’s right. Maybe he would be happier if he could just slip away, get some rest finally, get some relief from his pain… Oh my God, what am I doing? How can I be thinking these things? How can I be wishing him dead?’

She tried again to force the smile, her cheeks painful with the effort as blinking back the tears she looked at him again and said quietly ;

“Come on, let’s get you washed and dressed and you’ll start feeling a bit more human. You know the mornings are always worse…”

“I know, I swear its, getting worse though..”

“I know, but we’ll find a way, we always do.” 

she pauses for a moment….

“I love you Dad”

Cover songs and other oddities

“Originality? It’s over-rated at best and at worst deeply limited. It’s also mis-understood. So you think that fan fiction is derivative? That the covers band that entertained the pub last night weren’t credible creative artists? That any artist working in a genre they didn’t create is simply pastiche? Seriously? I guess nothing’s original, right? There’s no point trying to come up with anything because all of the good ideas have already been explored? You know what? Fuck you! Fuck your petty bourgeois reactionary rationalism! Fuck everything you’ve ever thought! How fucking dare you tell anyone else what is valid as art? What the fuck do you think makes you judge, jury and fucking executioner over what is and isn’t original or acceptable different or worthy? I’m done with fucking arseholes pontificating on subjects about which they know precisely half of fuck all!” 

I took a swig from the dark, black, bitter, burnt coffee, swallowing the lukewarm dregs with a grimace,

“Enough already! Fucking makes me sick, bunch of fucking deeply unpleasant pricks!”

I blushed as I realised that the background volume of chatter in the coffee shop had fallen away as my rant had increased in intensity and ferocity, my vitriol overtaking any self-esteem issues just as the power and passion that inspired writers, singers, artists to revisit and recreate the glorious work of their idols and heroes, their muses overwhelms their natural instinct to try to create something unique, the dark desires awoken by a chance discovery, the need to do it again only better, harder, faster, deeper, softer whatever. I slump in my seat, drained as the adrenalin flooding my system abates. She smiles, acknowledging that she has once again coped with my outburst, coped with the strange passions and behaviours of her friend, coped with being my friend….

Losing my friend….

The phone ringing tore me from my thoughts as I sat, head down, waiting. I knew what the phone call would be before I answered but nothing could prepare me for hearing the words, fears becoming reality as the soft voice at the other end of the connection confirmed what I already knew.

“We’ve carried out the ultrasound and the CT scan, and I’m afraid the results are as we feared. We need to make a decision on how you want to proceed while he is still under anaesthetic I think.”

The vet, a young woman in her late twenties was trying to avoid the words that were already tearing my heart apart

“There really isn’t any option, is there?” I asked, already knowing the answer

“No, the primary tumour has destroyed his spleen and there are multiple secondary tumours throughout his body, there isn’t anything that we could do other than keep him as comfortable as possible I’m afraid”

“Then I think we need to do what is best for him, and help him slip away, if you would kind enough.”

Her response broke me ;

“Thank you, it’s the right decision…do you want to come in and sit with him?”

The tears were streaming down my face as I sat on the car park wall, trying to speak, the words choked off in my throat

“I’ll be there in five minutes”

Sitting in the waiting room, trying to hold my composure, surrounded by other people bring their pets to see the vet, knowing that they would all be going home with theirs while I would be catching the bus home carrying an empty collar and lead

Who knows when….

I know something

I dont know what but I    

know something

Can I know something but not

know what I know

Who knows when
how much is

known is unknown when

I don’t know how

much there is to know or

how much remains


who knows when
knowing what when who how

where why unknowing the

meaning of the knowing but knowing 


disconnected knowledge is not 

power knowing 

who knows when

The fear of not being good enough…

I don’t know where it comes from, but it comes quietlty, slipping in through the cracks like an insidious, pervasive mist, thin tendrils at first, barely discernible against the background clutter of the mind, gradually thickening, becoming more dense as the seconds tick by, as minute by minute the feelings of inadequacy deeper and spread, starting in one point of the thought process, but seeping moment by moment through every thought, every decision remembered until the questioning, the self doubt becomes everything, the only thing. And it hurts, physically, the thoughts and doubts and fears cause physical discomfort, the knot in the stomach, the tightness in the chest making each breath laboured, the rising tide of panic increasing my pulse and blood pressure. I feel my heart race as my mind is racing and I know that there is nothing I can do to prevent it, to soften the impact, to lesson the severity. All I can do is try to maintain my grip, hoping that my fingers are strong enough to cling to the precipice, knowing that if I fall there is no coming back, no salvation, no second chance. It is all or nothing, and that knowledge increases the pressure further yet, pushing my mind to punish itself as each decision is analysed, then over-analysied for meaning, for substance, for some sense of why my body is reacting in this way.

I know that sleep will elude me, that the precious rest so hard fought for will not come, that tomorrow will be much the same as today, but these thoughts don’t calm me, don”t comfort me. They serve to further compound my distress as the digits on the bedside clock show me just how badly I am dealing with life in generally and University life in articular. I question eveything, it’s in my nature to do so but in that questioning, in the deep analysis, do I risk isolating
mysef still  further, confusing myself. I know that I am not thinking rationally but what can I do about it? The idea that I might finally be happy with some aspect of my life seems anathema to me as my mind spirals in every tighter circles. I try, but once the black dog has settled down over me there is little I can do but wait it out and hope that it passes quickly…

Warping reality

Phase space, that place beyond imagining to those of us not blessed with a deep background in theoretical physics, where all possible states of a system are represented, where nothing is set until it is observed, where wave and particle co-exist in potentia until forced to resolve to be one or the other. In that sea of potentiality where all is fluid exists the creaton. To search for it is to misunderstand it’s nature, seek it and it resolves to cease to exist in this reality, not merely disappearing but never having existed at all, the time/space matrix reconfiguring as though the creaton had never existed and could never had existed. To hope to catch a glimpse of it is to misunderstand it’s nature to. Hope is an energy and energy is a form of observation just as seeking is. To hope is to acknowledge a possibility and acknowledging the possibility of catching a glimpse forces the creaton to resolve such that it has never and could never exist. Yet every day, millions of times a second across a million million words through a million million million million minds creatons are interacting with neurones and synapses, with brains of a googleplex of different configurations to trigger ideas and thoughts and dreams beyond the capacity of the recipient to understand.

A blinding flash on inspiration is no simple metaphor, it is the minds perception of the interaction between the creaton and the receptors in the brain, receptors that can not possible have developed since there is no possible way that minds could know what shape and form the creaton will take. it doesn’t adapt or change as it has no structure to change, it has no existence in any sense that makes sense, yet it is responsible for every act of beauty, every moment of horror, every choice, every work of literature, of music, of art. Without it no species anywhere would have moved beyond the base animal urges common to all life, without it there would be no driving force to be better, to even understand a concept of better. To try to rationalise any of this is to misunderstand the nature of the multiverse. To try to seek a higher purpose or divine creator is to collapse the probability matrix such that any such evidence will not only cease to exist but will never have existed. There is no creator, there is only the creaton. A particle that is not a particle, a wave that is not a wave, an energy that is not subject to entropy, a force that has no place in a rational reality.

Rely on it at your peril, call on it to your cost, but act as though it doesn’t exist, act as though the creative process is simply that, a process, and strange and magical things happen, strange ideas spring as if from nowhere, as though they had a life of their own, and they do, or perhaps they don’t. That’s the terrible beauty of the creaton, the source of everything that differentiates us from mundane life, that elevates us above the nature of the beast. The creaton is everything, and it is also nothing….

The interview

Word had spread, slowly, gaining momentum. Each new progression gradually filtering through the layers of the beaurocratic maze that is higher education. The success supporting challenging students, the reputation for successful conflict resolution, the details of each minor victory conflating to create a ripple effect as my name was mentioned in increasingly rarified circles, through the levels of management and oversight and responsibility. The call to attend an interview for progression to mentor, specialist, focused, a significant lift in duties and responsibilities. The shifting of the requirements of the role to allow me to progress proof positive of the desire within the disability team to retain and enhance my services. The nominations, the shortlistings for the “extra mile” award, the university staff member of the year, significant recognition for someone who isn’t even officially a staff member. It all adds up, piece by piece, incremental, and the rewards slowly start to come, each year better than the last, building both in terms of remuneration and in acceptance across the university. The opportunites open up too, there was no staff training in autism awareness, despite years of trying to develop it, so I wrote it and presented it to the heads of disability and welfare. It was accepted almost without modification, something almost unique in university staff training and then roled out to a test audience across several schools within the University structure. Feedback was one hundred percent positive, again almost unique, particularly for a training programme written, developed and written by a single individual. The process of accepting the training into the umbrella of continuing professional development for all staff was a logical step forward, as was the prospect of rolling the training out to other universities to drive awareness of autism in higher education to prominence amongst disability awareness generally.

As the drive and passion pushed me forward and enhanced my reputation the agency themselves began to express an interest. Marketing collateral of the highest order. A success story of a low level minimum wage support worker, pushing himself within the system to excel and outperform all expectation. The first support worker to make the jump from support to metoring. The first support worker to write university accepted staff development training. The first support worker to be nominated and shortlisted for the extra mile award two years running. It all mounts up and now here I am, travelling to be interviewed as a shining light within the Unitemps family. Pushing myself further still in my quest for acceptance of my own disabilities and weaknesses. Yes, I choose those labels for myself, I take ownership of them and all the baggage that comes with them. I am autistic, I am disabled, I do have severe mental health conditions, both as a consequence of my autism and as a consequence of a lifetime trying to fit into a World that is simply not attuned to the way my mind works. I accept the advantages that my autism gives me as well, revelling in the increased speed of thought, the ability to make andbreak connections at will, the ability to work for hour after hour on a project without flagging, the dogged determination and single mindedness that allow me to succeed, and the pragmatism and lack of insight that allow me not to see the costs. Of course there are costs, there always are. My health is not great, my life expectancy is significantly diminished and my mental health, once relatively stable now fluctuates wildly, swinging from pole to pole with no discernable rhyme or reason.

Would I change anything? Would I give up my disabilities and challenges? I really don’t think so, they are what shapes and forms the core of who I am, they inform every aspect of my life, and I wouldn’t change a single thing….

Burning soul….

The day was almost here. I’d been waiting for this for what felt like eternity, but in reality was a couple of weeks… well, twelve days, fourteen hours and seven minutes, but who’s counting? You hurt me, badly, deeply, tore my heart out and stamped on it as though the gift of my love to you was nothing, meant nothing, but it is my turn now and for every second of pain you have given me you will suffer for a lifetime. Your suffering stretches out before you like the long, stony road of the repentant sinner, the irony not lost on me as I quietly wait, my mind still for the first time since the discovery, calm, deeply, chillingly calm, something I don’t recall experiencing before as I wait, my patience inexhaustable. Those words you once said to me, “You’re worth it…”, those will haunt you, as, my dear, you really are worth it. Worth all the planning, all the pain, all the scheming, all the bile and hatred and venom and evil that it is in my power to summon. You are worth burning a hole in my soul, my essence, my core for what you have done to me, to me and so many others before. You hurt me, us, and you are going to pay…

I loved you, more than I should, I know that. I was foolish, but you said that it was my foolishness that made me beautiful to you, my naivety, my innocence, but that was what you took, what you stole from me. You still have no idea what you have done, how much damage you have caused, because you never look beyond yourself, beyond the facile, transitory quest for your own pleasure. You still have no idea what’s coming, and that thought makes me smile, a parody of a real smile perhaps, but it’s the best I can do, and you always said you only wanted me to do my best. So that’s what I did. I opened my heart to you and loved you will all that I am and all that I had, thinking that it meant as much to you as it did to me, that those words were more than a collection of sounds, that they had value. Yes, I was foolish, but not any more. I learn fast, and you’ll see just how much I have learned about you, how much of what you hid from me I have managed to find, and you will pay, more than you can possibly imagine. It is my turn now, and I’ve learned from the best exactly how to wound, how to hurt, how to twist and manipulate, I’ve learned from the best and now the student will outshine the Master.

My burning soul will reduce you to ashes….


The train door alarm sounds, warning of their impending closure as I take my seat, my bag beside me containing my kit for the weekend. I smile, leaning back in my seat, feeling the tension of the week start to drain away as thoughts of the weekend ahead slowly filter into my mind, bubbling up through the toxic neurochemical debris of a week spend under extremes of stress and tension, fixing other peoples problems while having to address my own myself. Feelings of isolation and inadequacy mounting over the days as new issues present themselves adding to the dark pit of depression already welling up inside, feeding the demons that always lurk in the shadows, biding their time, always alert for opportunities to emerge and feast on my self esteem and sense of self worth, destroying everything I have worked so hard to build up over the years, ripping down the support structures that I have so carefully crafted to protect myself from complete collapse. And they’ve been busy this week, opportunities have been plentiful as events have unfolded to cause me to question everything I thought was solid, everything I thought was beginning to go right, everything I was beginning to rely on…more fool me! You would think that I would know better wouldn’t you? After all these years of abuse, neglect, lies, being let down over and over again, but each time hope raises her tender head above the parapet and tries to grow a little more she is scythed down by the razor blade wielded so carelessly by everyone I allow to get close.

I smile because I know what I’m going to do to fix myself, to reset and to heal the wounds this last week has caused. I know what I’m going to do because it’s the only thing that I know works to fix me, the only thing that helps me to feel whole, the only thing that has never broken me, my rock, my point of stability through whatever storm I’m facing. That’s the point of this journey, see? To re-connect with my true nature. To put the human world with all it’s complexity and confusion behind me for a while and enter the realm of equus, the world of the horse, my safe place. The train carries my away as my thoughts travel further through time and space, the pain falling away from me as my smile broadens with each passing mile, each moment a moment nearer to the fields, the gates and fences, the horses….my passion…my salvation…my joy.