Do You Have Autism? Would You Like to Contribute to a Photo Essay?

I’m Richard and as well as being a photography student I also write occasional freelance articles for https://thesociologicalmail.com

I would like to write a photo essay about autism in which I present some information about autism as a condition, and weave into it some personal accounts about living with autism.

I don’t have autism (I have depression and anxiety), but I do feel that autism is often misunderstood and misrepresented. I think the film and media representation of autism tends to be in the style of Rain Man and Mercury Rising, or patronising and derogatory.

What I would like from you is a photo that is a reflection of an aspect of living with autism, along with a short written account to explain the photo (around 50 words).

I’m not necessarily looking for a photo of you, I’d prefer something that expresses how you feel about life with autism, things that frustrate or annoy you, things people do or say that annoy you, skills/abilities/talents that you have, something that makes you happy, hopes, dreams, or something positive about living with autism. It could be a photo of a piece of art or sculpture that you have created.

My only requirement is around ethics and consent. So I can’t accept photos by, or of people under 18.

If you want to see the style of article I write then please see the link below. It’s scary to be involved in someone else’s essay, especially when you don’t know them. So I want to you to be able to see whether my essay style is suitable for your involvement.

I look forward to your reply.

My email is richard516716@oca.ac.uk

My photo essay on homelessness can be found at

https://thesociologicalmail.com/2017/09/13/homelessness-people-are-only-invisible-when-we-choose-to-ignore-them/

Best Wishes

Richard

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Who Am I? Who Are You? Society, Change, The Pain Of Ownership, The Journey From Me To We, Who Are We.

The beginning of my personal enquiry seems a little strange, but my thoughts were in response to a discussion on another blog.

Who Are We?

I agree. One positive change is beginning to happen with children being taught mindfulness in schools. It’s already creating communication, acceptance, tolerance, and the ability to look within. I like the idea of the shamanic talking stick. You can only speak when you have the stick. You hold the stick and state whatever you need to discuss and then pass the stick over. The person who is now holding the stick then has to say “this is what I heard you say…..and I think you mean this….” The stick gets passed back and you  respond to the other person. You agree with what tbe person heard and then explain what the second person didn’t hear or understand. This process is re6peated until you have been heard. The second person then holds the stick and they can then discuss whats bothering them, and repeat the process. Honest dialogue, honest speak, honest watching and honest listening. Honest listening is really hearing what has been said without mentally preparing to add your perspective, and without planning a response.  Honest watching is discussed by CE HALL in her essay Woman: The Mystery Decoded.

The bigger picture

I’m going to get political now – with the big P (government) the issue is that they can’t and don’t look at the big picture. They tackle single issues, crime, housing, tobacco, gambling, mental health, teen pregnancy etc. They do this because their aim is to get re-elected. They seek power not change.If they tackle the big picture and see that there is something wrong with the whole system, then they have to work from the ground up. Why does the UK have so much debt, a higher proportion of people in prison than other European countries. The biggest ratio of teenage pregnancies, food banks, an increase in betting shops; etc etc. To tackle the big picture is a long term process, and no government will dare to undertake this because the change is a slow and will take many years. This brings the risk of not being elected again. With governments of any kind – labour; conservative, Republican, Democrat. They are all the same. They all seek power and re-election rather than creating a cohesive and open society.
The small p is the politics of individuals and ownership. This is MY house, MY football team, MY religion, MY wife. My country. When we focus on me and ownership we create a polemic system where I am right and you are wrong. Suffering comes from ownership. It’s painful to defend a position that we find security in, so we then become defensive on the inside and create violence on the outside, and not necessarily physical violence.

Change can only come from individuals who enquire about who they are, and who others are. We let go of MY and understand WE. We look into our shame about who we are. We enter into our shadow and face it, and realise that shame is a myth, a social construct to create systemic control and obedience. When we see this we are free, we forgive ourselves and see that others act from shame, we understand their behaviour. Just because we understand their behaviour does not mean that we accept it. We set boundaries.  We can now see the bigger picture of WE. Shame is not personal, it is universal. We let go of the personal shame. No longer driven by our shadow, we are free to choose how we want to live. Free to set our boundaries, we now have choice because we are living from the bigger picture. This personal enquiry is happening with individuals around the world. If this change continues to develop, then change will happen from the grass roots upwards; and not from governments.

The realisation is I’m not who I think I am. The definitions and labels that I have received from myself and others, my defensive, restrictive belief system; my memories, my goals. These have all been possessive and restrictive. I thought I had choice, but when I started to explore these belief systems I realise how false and limiting they are. I am not my thoughts, feelings, beliefs, memories, ideologies, I am not my circumstances, I am not my personality (it’s just a restrictive perception).If am able to observe these things with an open mind, I realise that I cannot be what I observe. Everything that I think I am is impermanent. Even the cells in my body and the neurons in my brain change and die. There is a part of me, a “self” that has witnessed everything. It’s always been there. Here’s an analogy to explain this. I am the white board. You write on me and I remain as the white board. You rub out the writing and write something else, I remain as the white board . Another analogy. I am a tv screen. A documentary is played on the TV. I remain as the screen. You turn the TV off and the screen remains. You play a film. A tragic romance comes on. There is love and friendship and hope and dreams. The main character dies and there is grief, guilt and anger. All of these events and ideas happen on the screen. But they are not the screen. The screen is “self” who I am.

What remains needs meditation, contemplation, writing a journal, examining our beliefs and reactions. We question who or what am I beyond awareness. We realise that we are all “self” we are all the neutral observer. There is no separation from me and you. There is no MY.

The journey to discovery, to seeking the truth about who I am is a courageous path. To let go of false security and belief systems, to stand in presence, in this moment, with nothing to cling hold of, no false comfort blanket; We remain aware. The aware observer is following the warriors journey.

I now live with the knowledge that “we are”. Everything is ours. I am now free to share what is ours, rather than cling to what is mine. I have started “pay it forward friday” I go to the bakery and buy a pie. I pay with a  5 Pound note and ask the cashier to use the change to pay for whoever she serves next. I give 2 pound to a woman who sells the big issue, and 2 pound to a charity. It reaffirms that it’s our money, our connection; our pain and struggles, our hopes. “We are”. I am seeking the answer to who we really are beyond the veil of deception.

I am one of those people who have started to seek truth because of a crisis, because of the pain of breaking my boundaries, of doing “wrong”. The collapse of personal identity, the shame, the fear and grief, cracked my identity and personality wide open. Many people begin to seek answers to who they really are because of a total breakdown of the personality. There are more that seek because instinctively they feel that something is missing. Change is happening. We may not see the results in the near future, but as more people realise they are not who they think they are, more change begins.

The question remains – who am I?

Reference

Hall, CE; 2017; Women: The Mystery Decoded; Online at https://cehallweb.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/women-the-mystery-decoded/ (accessed on 30th September 2017)

Good News For One Of The Guys From My Homelessness Photo Essay

One of the guys that was kind enough to allow me to photograph him for my photo essay on homelessness has just moved into a bedsit. He’s in the process of applying for a buskers license as well. It’s made my day.

If you want to have a look at my photo essay (my first published article) you can see it at Homelessness – People are Only Invisible When We Choose to Ignore Them.

Proud of Pride

Pride is a celebration of diversity and gender in all of its many forms. It’s an opportunity for the LGBTQ community, friends, family and supporters to gather together and be proud of being who we are. Being visible as a community means that equality and diversity can be promoted and homophobia and discrimination can be challenged by presence and a carnival atmosphere.