Twenty one year old Fiacre Ryan’s first published book envelopes the reader as he tells his story of growing up with autism…
Featured Image; Boy Reading: Ned Anshutz by Thomas Pallock Anshutz, Brooklyn Museum.
Until the age of 13, Fiacre Ryan had no means of communication with his family or the outside world – his nonverbal autism preventing him from engaging and learning. But with the use of a rapid prompting letterboard tool, Fiacre’s world has been totally transformed: he sat his Leaving Certificate in 2018 and now, at 21, has become the first author with non-verbal autism to be published in Ireland. Before he was able to communicate, he writes, “It was cloudy, terrible and dark inside my thoughts … In writing and poetry, I harness my thoughts and ideas … with a meeting of words, my spelling and typing has enabled my intelligence.” Speechless: Reflections from My Voiceless World, by Fiacre Ryan, published by Merrion Press, out now.
MY EXPERIENCE OF LIVING WITH AUTISM
People ask all the time what it is like living with autism. But I have never known any other life apart from this one.
I am redefining what autism means. Challenging the age-old perceptions. Analysing how my brain and body disconnect, since my brain attends to my body chaotically, my neural pathways skewed.
A thought escapes. All the particles collide like the Large Hadron Collider, accelerating through the tunnel of my brain, nearing light speed, hurtling along my body. Trying so hard to be useful, neurotypical, even normal. But the thoughts revel in chaos, sending the body into eccentricities, nothing like intended.
A collision with a great fallout; a scattering of particles. Eyes are now all on me, the day is ending badly. Just a typical autistic moment of interacting forces, out of my control. Tension takes over, stress envelops every core of my being, wearing me down, eventually hosting anxiety, dancing around my brain, echoing a roared chaos, a dreaded nightmare. Calm returns too late in the day to save me. Exclusion awaits, again.
It is too easy to exclude people who cannot speak up for themselves. We have the right to be treated with respect. Our opinions matter, our lives matter. No one has the right to silence our unheard voices. To shut us out of our own lives. Talked about, doubted, dismissed. Calling us names, deciding our fate, while we can only listen.
Believe that our brains colliding in catalysts will one day astound those decision makers who seek to deny us.
From Speechless: Reflections from My Voiceless World, by Fiacre Ryan, published by Merrion Press, €16.95, out now.