We asked what do social belonging and connections mean to you?
Thank you so much to everyone who has shared such powerful words and images with us.
There were no right or wrong answers and we discussed your responses so far with autistic people. Our original intention was to gather positive experiences, however, we add a content note as some of you wanted to share feelings of thwarted belonging and disconnectedness. We really appreciate this as it may have been painful to express these. Please bear this in mind when you view this page, particularly, if you feel that you may over-empathise. Take a break at any point or talk to family or friends or see our pages of resources if you need support. We discussed that sharing these experiences via social media can be a really important way to connect with others and feel supported.
Click on any of the images to enlarge them and for more information. Please feel free to leave comments at the bottom of the page. You are also welcome to share your own feelings via our twitter feed @isbelonging, fill in a postcard, send a short note by email or send in a creative submission in any form that you would like.
I wanted to belong. Back to my earliest memories.
I have experienced brief delusions of it.
'Be yourself' was a specific instruction as was 'be happy as you are'.
If it had ever struck me that I could seem less different by copying others,
I would have dismissed it as 'cheating'.
Nor did I spend sufficient time 'human watching' to pick up anything,
There were books, imaginary places, questions about the nature of reality
To be occupied by.
By the time it was suggested that I act like others, I knew that others were cruel.
I'm not the only 'victim' in this, in ignorance I've been cruel,
And I'm sorry.
The problem was something about my person, and abilities.
Ugly (as the male population were enthusiastic to point out).
Weird (without conscious thought, despite the claims of 'attention seeking')
I made a few smile by playing clown, not friends,
Other non confrontational misfits. A little confederacy of buffer states.
Fundamentally Unlikeable. Sub human.
By the time I left school I was a wreck.
(The reader is invited to imagine issues they don't find too distressing)
I didn't get through college
I did get through a dysfunctional relationship.
At 20 I decided to 'get better', I gave myself a new name,
One that I wouldn't hear derision in every time I was spoken to.
Tried everything I came across that offered a solution,
Getting a little better then worse, like a badly weighted pendulum.
16 years later...autism. After 22 years of searching...
Art has been my sanctuary, burning to create,
Acting is unsatisfactory, and just as I can't mask, I can't act.
A detour into writing bought sufficient time to recover from
The psychological assault that is school art teaching.
Where they won't say what they expect, why the A or D,
Also at 20:
Brian Froud, (from a kind partner, a relationship no more dysfunctional
Than the people in it)
A class, a book, another class, book, class
Improvement from structured practice, I understood a process!
I made a friend. The first person other than my partner who I believed liked me.
I had felt tolerated due to other's goodness,
Before that disdainful of anyone so desperate for company as to turn to me.
A kind partner, real friends...perhaps five.
Is it belonging?
There are ways to 'contribute', to 'participate'
To be 'one of' if not 'part of', more co-operator than collaborator.
To conform, to compromise, to form consensus...alien.
To co-operate with an ethical and practical consensus reached by others
Possible. To direct others...if I must.
Back where I started, being me, with more knowledge, skill, confidence.
Still fragile, damaged, but not broken.
I belong to me, I always did.
23.3.21 (Twitter) : This means being accepted no matter if you have a disability ... Last night, I ran for my life! I was laughed at in @NewportBeach by people I never met, just for walking in my own neighborhood. Here's the story & it needs to be exposed.