Speaking in Pattern, Theme and Feel - Autism Awareness

Speaking in Pattern, Theme and Feel

by  Donna Williams

Speaking in sounds, movements, through the feel and theme of songs, jingles and advertisments was my first language. Affirmation was a structure that made sense, to use a jingle to affirm a feeling. So someone says, ‘we’re going’ out and I say ‘Gilligan’s Island’ to me this is an affirmation, just they are speaking interpretively and I’m speaking in theme and feel. Statements made sense because I was all self/no other, and all other/no self.

Questions are part of the world of multi-track people with a simultaneous sense of self and other. And why would a self-owning cat-person ask for ‘help’ from a dog-person? As for spontaneous self expression, of course, being a ‘cat-person’ I’d reserve that for the ‘cat-friendly’, but these days I invite ‘cat-friendly’ dog-people, especially if they’re not face to face…. because boy do they LOOK, watch, blah and love proximity….OK for a visit, wouldn’t want to live there.

I learned interpretive words by age nine but learned to understand and very painstakingly construct interpretive sentences age 9-11 so I could initiate more than just react verbally. Otherwise I was thought to ‘waffle’ non-sensically (which wasn’t true, just I didn’t use their form of interpretive language based on mind-pictures).

My natural verbal language is ‘feeling speak’ which doesn’t always have easy translation to the mind-speak, the interpretive-language of most non-auties. For example, cat-people, having lemons, big black nothingness, are all poetry speak I understand and if someone else on the spectrum speaks to me in their own version I usually have no problem ‘getting it’ even if it was hard for their non-autie carer’s to make INTERPRETIVE sense of…. but go read TS Elliot… he makes little interpretive sense with his poetry but it SPEAKS so clearly, read The Four Quartets and you’ll see what I mean. There are people who ‘think in pictures’, but I think in feelings and movement and acoustic sounds and form and pattern and texture – I’m kinesthetic, not visual. Hence my words are like that too and why I am a fluffy island cat who often has lemons why the whoosh, k-tunk is so globby and boggledee, and maybe Lewis Carol understood this when he wrote ‘Jabberwocky’ .

To better understand the explanations behind this form of ‘idiosyncratic’ language, you can read about this in Autism And Sensing; The Unlost Instinct, also about the language of indirectness in Exposure Anxiety; The Invisible Cage and about a lack of simultaneous self and other in Autism; An Inside Out Approach and my latest book, The Jumbled Jigsaw. If you want to get a FEEL for it, you can certainly find it in my four autie-biographical works, Nobody Nowhere, Somebody Somewhere, Like Color To The Blind and Everyday Heaven or my poetry/prose book, Not Just Anything.

Reprinted with permission from Donna Williams. Donna’s website is www.donnawilliams.net.


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