Monday, November 18, 2013

This Is Autism (Nick Walker)

Written by Nick Walker

Originally published at NEUROCOSMOPOLITANISM

Old Cutter John comes to town, leaving Las Vegas before dawn and driving across desert and mountains to Berkeley nonstop, no sleep, fueled by coffee and chocolate and a whole lot of CDs full of music to play over and over again with the volume on the stereo of the rental car turned up to eleven.
The CDs are mix CDs he made, and mix CDs I made for him. For a few years we shared an obsession with making these mix CD and sharing them with one another and with friends. Each CD is a collection of songs we like, united by a particular theme, or a complex set of interrelated themes. They are musical stories or treatises; soundtracks to unmade movies about whatever aspects of life we were contemplating at the time. The themes are not simple, it’s not like, “This one is a collection of my favorite love songs, and this one is a dance mix for parties.” Titles of our various mix CDs include The Mark of Cain, 100 Years of Solitude, Where They Never Have Troubles, and The Logistic Difference Equation.
Like me, Old Cutter John is an Autistic activist. He’s also my father. I recently discovered that many people in the Autistic activism community – including people who have been friends with both Old Cutter John and I for years – were unaware that he was my father. We’ve never tried to conceal the fact from anyone. It just never occurs to us to mention it if no one asks.
Once Old Cutter John mentioned to someone that he’s known me for decades. The person asked where Old Cutter John and I had first met.
Old Cutter John replied, “In a hospital.”
This is autism.

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