Jennifer: perpetual, brimming, possibility and #Aspie

Autism Unveiled: Week One, Day One

“Who am I?”

I am a work-in-progress. A tumble of innocence and insight, wonder and poetry, music and love. I’m a teacher. A mother. A writer. A dancer. A fiery redhead in high heels and polka dot dresses. A passionate protector. A still-little-girl-inside who sometimes feels afraid to say one more word or live one more day, because I might do it wrong. Again. I am also the fearless woman whose boundless will refuses to yield to that fear. I am chili chocolate and tire swings, wild hair and quiet mornings. Constantly-thinking, spicy and sweet and sad and strange and amazed. I am Jenny. A woman-in-progress.

“How is Autism a Part of Me?”

I was identified as an Aspie only four years ago — it was the beginning of a new and wonderful journey of reverse self-discovery in which I have come to know my most authentic self. Each one of us is born with unrealized abilities to think and feel and do much more than we ever think we can. For me, that’s autism. A self-referenced, not self-centered, way of relating to the world through sound and movement and passion and curiosity. It is a personality-full-of-elentless intensity and cheeky quirks, not a person-full-of-shameful-flaws. Because, you see, the most important thing autism has taught me isn’t how to be autistic. It’s how to be human.”

I’d like to share this poem from my new book The Sisterhood of the Spectrum (2015, Jessica-Kingsley Publishers). Illustration by Anne-Louise Richards

This Beautiful Idea


"In First-Person" black and white photograph by Jennifer O'Toole
“In First-Person” black and white photograph by Jennifer O’Toole

Jennifer O’Toole, Charlotte, North Carolina

Jennifer is part of the Autism Unveiled Project – 6 weeks of Autism culminating on April 2, 2015, World Autism Day. “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” Dr. Stephen Mark Shore.

Thank you Jennifer for kicking off Autism Unveiled!

One reply on “Jennifer: perpetual, brimming, possibility and #Aspie”
  1. says: Chad Iwertz

    Thanks for sharing this post and great poem, Jenny. Have you always written poetry, or is this something that you’ve developed over the past few years? I ask because I wonder how much of an influence poetry has had in your life before and after your identification as an Aspie. Has poetry come to mean more to you since you’ve become an Aspie?

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