Autistic Changeling: A poem

Art by Dana Trick
Art work by Dana Trick

Autistic Changeling

By Dana Trick

Once upon a time,
A child was born to a family.
At first, they were overjoyed with the child,
But when they’d exhibited strange behaviors that don’t belong to other children,
When they’d showed passionate interest and knowledge of strange things,
When they’d acted like themselves—
The family became unnerved and uncomfortable in the child’s presence.

Wanting to end this peculiarity, the family sought all sort of answers from doctors and wisemen
But they only gave unsatisfied answers that only worsen the family’s hopes
Of finding the cause of their child’s strangeness and a cure that would make them normal.
The family finally found a medicine woman who told them that their child simply had autism,
Giving them facts about the disorder as well as recommend the needed services for the child—
But her words fell upon stubborn and ignorant ears
For the family was too-steep in horrible myths of autism,
Where it was a disease that stole a precious and normal child from a well-loving family
And replaced the bad with a horrible changeling that remained a child forever..

The family was determined to chase away the autistic changeling
With punishments, with bruises, with cuts, with insults, with shame, with venom,
So their human child would happily return to them—
But all they did was inflicted pain upon pain on their Autistic Child,
Ignoring their tears and scars, ignoring their beauty and passion, ignoring who they are—
Until the Autistic Child ‘s heart broke into shards and shadows of themself,
A figure that only mimicked other humans,
A figure that only recited lies instead of creating beauty,
A figure that was the desired normal child that the family had so long prayed for.

At eighteen,
The Autistic Child refused to accept any more of the family’s healing abuse,
And they ran away from the family’s home,
Leaving the family to wait forever for a child that doesn’t exist.
Entering the outside world with wonders and terrors,
The Autistic Child trembled with fear and despair,
Each encounter with humans continuing the cycle of abuse onto the heart, mind, and body.
The autistic child haphazardly survived day by day,
Painfully believing their fate of a doomed life,
Painfully reciting the family’s ableism onto their ears,
Until an Autistic Witch came upon his shadow while they were sleeping under a tree.

Feeling a sense of kinship and familiarity with the trembling autistic child,
The autistic witch kindly tried talking the autistic child
But the sudden chaotic sounds of the world and the miserable memories of the past
Swallowed the Autistic Child’s being into a meltdown.
Seeing it and knowing the incoming passerby,
The Autistic Witch calmly protected them with spells of kindness and empathy
From the rude stares and words, harsh actions and assaults of the normal people.

Once the normal people began avoiding their spot,
Once the Autistic Child recovered from their meltdown,
The Autistic Witch sweetly asked,
“Hey kid, are you okay? Is there something bothering you?”
The Autistic Child could only whimper,
“I’m broken, I’m trash, I’m wrong, I don’t deserve to exist anymore.”

“Who told you that?” the Autistic Witch asked, hiding her tears and fears from the response,
“What makes you wrong, what makes you broken? Do you know who you are?”

“I . . . I don’t know anymore,” they cried,
“Everyone seems to know how do the right thing to do or say,
But I don’t understand anything and everything I do only is wrong,
There’s nothing normal about me, there’s nothing useful about me.
I’m nothing!”

“If this cruel chaotic life has taught me anything,”
Proclaimed the Autistic Witch with hope and wisdom,
“Is that measuring the ‘usefulness’ of a person is worthless,
That trying to as normal as everyone else is a waste because
Every human, including me and you, is so very and inevitably different—
And that is wonderfully okay!”

The Autistic Witch held out her hand to the Autistic Child,
“Let me take you someplace else, where people will help you,
Give you much needed kindness and hope so you can find your goodness and beauty.”
But the Autistic Child only curled themselves into a ball, shaking harder,
Mind drifting back to their learned and remembered pain.
“No, no, no,” they’d stammered, “You’ll hurt me. Help brings hurt, help always brings hurt.”

“No, no, no,” the Witch calmly said, “This help won’t bring you anymore scars,
This help isn’t out of fear and hate, This help can’t hurt you.
I’ll be with you while others I trust help you, who’ll do it out of love and care,
To find your goodness and beauty. Don’t worry, please, take my hand.”

Art by Dana Trick
Art work by Dana Trick

Trembling with countless scars, crying with countless fears,
The Autistic Child grabbed the Autistic Witch’s hand and together they flew above the world
To the sanctuary of autistics,
All of whom welcomed the autistic child with much needed kindness and goodness.

Protected and encouraged by the autistic witch,
The autistic child was greatly helped by them,
Gaining so much self-love, so much self-esteem, so much wonder
That they were able to find their goodness, their beauty, their honesty,
Themselves—the Autistic Unicorn.

Now living as their true self,
The autistic unicorn lived happily ever after
With their true friends and true family.

Dana Trick headshot

Dana resides in Moorpark, California. She spends too much of her time reading books (fantasy, fiction, history, poetry, comics), drawing weird things that suddenly appear in her head, writing stories and poems and listening to a strange assortments of music genres that she isn’t sure what type of music fan she is.

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