I Was Not a Rotten Piece of Fruit

The Art of Autism kicks off our 8th Annual Arts & Poems for Peace Project. We will be posting on Facebook peace submissions throughout the month of October.

By Talia Flanzraich

I was not a piece of
rotten fruit
that was meant to be
thrown in the trash.
I was only a tiny seed that
needed time for her to
be reproduced.
I’m a living thing,
not a mechanical robot.
I was made to trip and fall,
not to remember
computer codes
off by heart.
Flowers need time to shine
and become breathing figures.
Robots are fast as
race cars that
don’t need constant care.
I was not a piece
of rotten fruit
that was meant to be
stepped on and squashed.
I was just
a dwarf flower that
took time for her to
bloom, breathe, smile, and shine.

When I was younger, I struggled with emotional regulation, understanding social norms, and developed differently than the average kid my age. I repeated junior kindergarten twice because of my learning difficulties that required me to be around younger children. In the 3rd grade, I would still be completing assignments that were suitable for a senior kindergarten or 1st grade student. This was due to my challenges with reading comprehension and numeracy. My ability to perform academically was fairly compromised. I required one-on-one educational support in a regular classroom and didn’t spend the entire school day there.

When I was a pre-teen, I did not always handle things maturely. I would still have temper tantrums, throw things, bang my head, whine, pout and would depend on my parents for everything. Kids around that age wouldn’t typically conduct themselves in the way I did as a pre-teen. My emotional stability was equivalent to a young child, as opposed to a pre-teen. Although Autism doesn’t excuse this type of behavior, it definitely explained why I developed slower than the average child my age. I experienced anxiety bouts and my emotional neediness increased as my mental health deteriorated over time. Anxiety made it harder for me to function at an age-appropriate level. Even though my emotional intelligence was low, I was independent in other ways; I started walking to the park on my own, I would go to stores and buy things on my own, go for bike rides without adult supervision, started hanging out with friends without having a parent/guardian present at all times and my academic performance began to improve. My reading comprehension levels got higher and higher.

At the age of 15, behaviors like head-banging, whining, and throwing things gradually diminished. I still had temper tantrums, raised my voice, swore, and had trouble solving my problems independently. I always had to depend on my parents for excessive emotional support. I had the tools to deal with them, but my ability to help myself was compromised. However, I slowly began to mature in certain areas of my life; I began to take public transit on my own, my academic performance was much better, I would take longer walks on my own, and I started preparing my own meals and snacks (I was still not allowed to use the oven or stove due to safety concerns). I was able to visit the library without adult supervision and was allowed to visit the mall on my own. I started getting honor rolls and awards for different classes.

When I was 16 and 17, I no longer needed to rely on a nanny for additional emotional support and to take me on longer bus trips to various places in the community. I was able to stay home alone for longer periods of time and I’ve already mastered my public transportation skills. I no longer banged my head, whined, or pouted when I was angry, sad, upset, and frustrated.

I didn’t fully mature until I was an adult. I experienced some challenges when I was 17, 18, 19 and 20, because I wasn’t mentally, psychologically, and emotionally strong enough to manage my emotions properly. My mental health deteriorated greatly after a good friend passed away and I endured more bullying. My journey to health, maturity, and advanced independence began at twenty-one and I’m continuing to learn, grow, and live along the way. I’m proud of myself and I’ve come a long way to become the person I am today.

I wrote this poem, because I wanted to explain some of my Autism-related challenges and get people to understand that living with Autism and other developmental challenges doesn’t make someone “stupid”, “worthless” and “incapable”. It simply means that people mature at different times and that it is not a horrible thing. In general, life is challenging. Our brains function differently and that is not something to be ashamed of. Just because we don’t function at the appropriate levels at the appropriate times, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a chance to mature and learn from our mistakes later on in life. All it means is that it will take us time to develop the skills we need to live autonomously, meaningfully, healthfully, and fruitfully.

Here are some of my affirmations that I’m willing to share with all of you:
It is okay to be different.
It is okay to function differently.
It is okay to be your own individual.
It is okay to learn differently from others.
We are human beings, and we need to appreciate that we are different.
No one is the same and no one will ever be the same.

Author Bio
Talia Flanzraich is a passionate poet, artist, and recreation programmer. She graduated with a diploma in Recreation and Leisure Services from Seneca College. Talia has been creating art and writing since she was a young child.

On February 24th, 2022, Talia published her first paperback poetry book called “Up and Down the Ladder”. On February 23, 2023, she published a second paperback poetry book called “Scrapbook”. Both of her books can be found and purchased on Amazon.

Talia Flanzraich was diagnosed with Autism when she was 2 years old. She couldn’t speak until she was 4 years old. Besides being on the spectrum, Talia also lives with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), and myopia (near-sightedness). She has been living with GAD since she was 11 years old, and myopia since she was 18 years old.

When Talia is not writing, making art, or working part-time, she will be seen playing mobile games, solving puzzles, studying foreign languages/multiculturalism, reading, listening to music, making music with her iPad, taking photographs with her iPhone, watching YouTube videos, walking, exploring the community, hanging out with friends/family, meditating, and whipping up some delicious dishes and treats in her kitchen! She speaks English and Russian fluently, knows intermediate level German, basic level Hebrew, basic level Tagalog, basic level Turkish, basic level Tatar, basic level Swedish, and a few words in Yiddish (Jewish). Her goal is to know at least 10 different languages, so she can write poems and quotes in them! She currently lives in an apartment complex north of Toronto, Ontario.

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