“When we close our eyes” – hope for a better future for autistic women and girls

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing

There is a field

I will meet you there”


There was once a little girl who danced to the rhythm of the daisy petals she scattered, a child who captured in her imagination a sense of velveteen calm through the scent of the lilac buddleia tree where butterflies settled in silence and stayed with her for a while. Where the fragile wings, juxtaposed across powder blue skies made her feel like bursting and where as a toddler she had marched up and down the low fronted wall of their factory house yard playing ‘Hey Big Spender’ on her toilet paper and comb. And, on one special day, she and her mum had walked hand in hand along a street to the home of a woman who had advertised in the local shop. It was there that the little girl got her first bicycle, a three wheeled red framed trike with a very large, metal bread bin screwed to the back, perfect for carrying the one armed, bow legged, sorrowful teddies rescued from the community centre jumble sales. She loved that bike, the rattling sound going up and down the curbs and the freedom of peddling through the allotments where neighbours grew their veggies and flowers, collecting sticks and pebbles that once engaged with she couldn’t let go of. She still has them….those inanimate friends.

And yet it isn’t these overriding memories that awaken her in the night, not the comfort of knowing that she was loved and cherished and nurtured and whole. All of that innocence was taken away, suspended in time, in the name of undiagnosed autism, the magic, the music, the creative spirit, stolen ……as if holding a tiny bird in an open palm, holding it up to the earth gods and watching it fly, unbroken, untamed, un-silenced. And as it left the birds of prey came, pecking and goading and the white picket fence closed as the asylum gates opened. And those mystical powers were smothered with drugs and power and an energy that even the strongest of adults could not have rebuffed. And the keys turned and the unheard stories were muted and shamed, carved into the very pores of the mortar that cradled it. And the dreams ended and the battles started and the child died.

And there followed a forty year battle of wits between the hidden gem and the monster earth until one day, lying in the dust, battle worn and broken the little bird who had flown returned, weather worn and yet more beautiful and it settled on the woman’s failing spirit and it whispered, the quietest of promises, the strongest of resolutions. And the softness of its tiny wings brushed her skin and sang a song of lost decades and broken promises, and the dawn chorus began, like a symphony and she arose, with arms raised she arose and she spun and she danced and she laughed at the sun and she moved to the rhythm of her own song and the butterflies settled and the daisies grew and the hope was not lost.

May all of those taking flight today find their gentle way back home and may those who sacrificed their lives on the alter of ignorance, who close their eyes and see the horrors, hold out their gifts of wisdom and of empathy and of solidarity until every cage is unlocked and every spirit flying free.

Ignorance is the default setting for a compassion less world

Knowledge is the gift of hindsight and reconciliation

Progress is being able to identify the difference.

I am no longer governed by the pain but I refuse to forget.

I want to be the difference .

With love

Ju x

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