The Unspoken

10 Feb

This poem was inspired by “No You Don’t,” a blog entry by Unstrange Mind. Read it here:


This poem is my answer to the “experts” who rack their brains for solutions, but don’t realize that the solution is right in front of them. It’s my answer to the special needs child who comes home from school having been told all day, “You will never live independently. You’re acting like a baby. You’re fat and lazy,” but has no words to tell her parents that she’s being abused. It’s my answer to the millions of unspoken cries that you don’t understand what I’m trying to tell you, and so you label me “disobedient.” This poem is my answer to you, when you stare at me while I’m buying groceries, because someone who buys groceries and wears a spiked bracelet doesn’t have a disability, they’re just weird, someone who looks this much like me should try to look more like me. Do you think this isn’t you? The answer begins now.


The Unspoken

These are my people

their suffering is mine

and their pain is my burden to bear

if I don’t speak out



when I see them abused,

used and reused

their power diffused to a myriad of “like-you’s”

they’re told if they refuse, they won’t have a future

their self-ownership taken and made into obedience

until they can’t take anymore

until they lose their cool

burn up their fuse, their ruse of being like you

–and then they’re accused

of noncompliance.


Therapy is a double-edged sword

I’ve seen the skills that it can teach–

I’ve seen the way we can help when we reach,

reach out–

but when we ignore the costs

of stressing “compliance” over “independence”

when we consider

only our own stance

and don’t think, “Whose life is being enhanced?

Whose goals are being advanced?”

we get the “you-can’ts”


you can’t react in a way that’s natural to you

you can’t decide your own fate,

you can’t create your own coping skills

to abate the pressure of processing

to monitor your input,

you can’t define yourself

can’t time yourself

you can’t not look like me

you can’t say No.

“No” is the dirtiest word

when you’re being taught to agree

to conform

as if your very existence

does harm

unless your alter your way of being

but you can’t alter someone’s way of seeing


I’ve seen the classroom where the standard

is Be as I Am

“we don’t say no in this classroom”

no joke

that’s a quote

like the right to disagree

is something that can be revoked.

And I know a dude who has two words to say

yes and no

but who only says No

when he’s screaming

–like, desperate–

because someone has taught him

that compliance is sacred

No is the unspoken word

Our opinion is the Unspoken


Most people don’t understand

our way of functioning

don’t extend their hand

into our domain

It’s a two-way street


you have to move, too

to listen to us

like we listen to you


We spend our entire lives functioning

the best we can by your standards

but you, on your side,

learn nothing of ours

Do you know that we are not a disease?

Do you know that our behaviors are not maladjusted?

Do you even know that we have standards and norms?


Our culture is rich,

it’s not a set of symptoms

What you see as a “signifier”

we see as communication.

If eye contact makes us uncomfortable,

if we don’t need it to communicate,

if it hurts us,

you don’t accommodate

you try to “therapy” it out of us

eye contact is good, disability is bad

eye contact is good

disability is bad

eye contact is good

normal is good…

What you call unsightly,

our stimming behavior

is our way of saying,”I feel.”

Excited, thrilled, anxious, afraid, overwhelmed

a stim is worth a thousand words

but you only have one:


behavior must be eliminated.

It doesn’t matter if the behavior

is our savior

if it’s worthwhile

for us to “de-frag” with a little stim

it’s the “like-you” mentality

If we’re not like you,

we’re not right.


Study our culture, and you’ll know how to help us

Your neurology is a sin

Hear the Unspoken

our opinion,

Behavior must be eliminated

Learn why we do what we do

Why is that freak tiptoeing around WalMart with a stuffed animal, talking to herself?

When we break down

learn how to help us redirect,

don’t be circumspect

Normal is good, disability is bad

Don’t teach us not to value our opinion

not to have an opinion

Normal is good, normal is good

Don’t teach us that yes is the sacred word

You teach us to say yes at all costs

but you teach us to say yes to abuse

did you know that you teach us to say yes to rape?

and that owning our body is not okay?

Obey, comply, obey

consider the costs

of stealing independence

I’m not here to say that therapy is bad

I’m not here to destroy ABA

–but good God, you don’t like to hear what we say

don’t just teach “yes, alright, okay”

because you know you would never teach that to your nondisabled child

Don’t value your opinions, don’t have beliefs

Say yes to all “like-you’s”

leave your No’s unspoken

when you stand up for your rights, you are acting out

it’s not okay to be yourself

But that’s the norm for teaching Autistics

it’s like something from

a futuristic horror movie


obey, comply, obey, comply, do as you’re told, Big Brother

only wants the best for you

even though he’s abusing you

But you really want the best for yourself

because it makes you uncomfortable

that we look different

act different

it scares you.


This is our way of being

accept it

–if we hurt someone, teach us to redirect it

yes, everyone has a lot to learn

–but just listen to us

and look inside our minds

instead of pretending there’s no way to understand what an Autistic is thinking

because you’re ignoring those of us who are trying to tell you

exactly what it’s like

When your “therapies”

and “methods”

cause PTSD,

that’s a sign

that it’s time

to change the way you treat us

and teach us

and that’s the point of this rhyme

To give voice to the Unspoken

the opinion

that we have opinions


So it’s time to work together

we’ve spent our whole lives

being told to be like you

now listen to us

we’ll teach you how to help

we are the answer

the answer is not lost

you just pretend it doesn’t exist

Take my hand,

I’ll show you Autismland

and together, we’ll find unity

for both communities

and answers 

for everyone’s questions

the Unspoken is this:

Teach us to be our best self,

not our best someone else.


“Number one: don’t focus so much energy on making us look “normal.” That’s a waste of time. We’re not “normal” and we will never be “normal.” We are Autistics and we are better off when you focus your energy on helping us to be the best Autistics we can be.” (quote from Unstrange Mind)

2 Responses to “The Unspoken”

  1. Kimberly Trueax May 14, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    very impressive and well spoken

    • AutisticChick August 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

      Thank you! 🙂 It means a lot to hear that ^_^

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