August 31st, 2022
Welcome to The Odd Piece, a comfortable space where we can talk about all things to do with autism. So, you might be asking yourself, why 'The Odd Piece?' In a nutshell, 'The Odd Piece' is the name of my first book but we will get to that in a moment.
Firstly, let me introduce myself. My name is Alison and, when I am not delving into the world of autism, I am passionately involved in photography. This might seem a random thing to mention in a blog about autism but you will soon find out that I don't play by the rules of convention and that photography does in fact play an important role in 'The Odd Piece.'
So, this is my first ever post and I am very excited to introduce my book, The Odd Piece, which I have just finished writing and which will be available to purchase as a paperback and as an eBook in the next couple of months. Woven together with poetry and prose, The Odd Piece is an autobiographical narrative which explores my complex and often challenging relationship with autism. More on this to follow...
Today, I think it is important to begin by explaining why I decided to write 'The Odd Piece' but, before that, let’s go back in time to the summer of 2019. For reasons which are hard to explain, I was becoming increasingly aware that I didn’t fit in with society’s expectations of how I should behave. This was making me feel uncomfortable. So I thought it was about time to find out what a clinical psychologist had to say about it all. I was ready to talk to a specialist about my behaviour, optimistic that they would be able to help me make sense of it. Having undergone a psychological assessment, I wasn't very surprised to discover that I occupy one of the seats on the autism spectrum.
So, why did I write the book?
Making sense of my diagnosis
Having a diagnosis of autism was in some ways a relief as it explained a lot about my behaviour but it wasn’t enough to help me understand. There was still something missing. The fragments of information I learnt about myself made sense on their own but not as a whole. How did they all fit together? I needed a clearer understanding of the big picture and of how my idiosyncrasies related to each other. I decided that the only solution was to regurgitate everything onto paper in the hope that clarity would follow.
Some people seem to think that I am obsessed with tidiness. So, let me clarify this. If something is important to me then I like it to fit into a neat and tidy package. If I can't make it fit then I find this very upsetting and frustrating. If, on the other hand something isn’t important to me then I am happy to leave it alone.
Take my sewing kit for example, a metal tin filled with a jumbled mass of coloured threads knotted together with pins and needles. I hate sewing and, on the rare occasions when I gather together enough enthusiasm to sew on a missing button, the last thing I want to do is tidy the tin.
Understanding my behaviour on the other hand is something which is very important to me and, until I had separated the threads, I stood absolutely no chance of seeing things clearly. Writing enabled me compartmentalize my behaviour and create some form or order out of the chaos.
Revealing my identity
Then there is this growing sense of urgency to reveal my identity. It is important to show that I am not someone who merely behaves oddly but that I am an individual made up of a collection of idiosyncrasies which define who I am. I am proud to be autistic and I want 'The Odd Piece' to be an expression of my identity, an illustration of who I am as an individual.
Preparing my future self
I realised, whilst writing 'The Odd Piece,' that not only is it a book for the here and now but that it will also serve as a useful reminder to my future self. As time passes, memories naturally become diluted or even forgotten and it is important to me that I don’t lose any of these.
Thank you very much for reading my first post. If you enjoyed it and would like to find out more about ‘The Odd Piece’ then please 'sign up' to subscribe to future posts. If you would like to share any of your own thoughts then please feel free to leave a comment.
Next month I will hopefully have an exciting update on my book's publishing journey. I also want to talk to you about 'The Cloak of Conformity and the Corset of Expectation.'