Marney Schorr
Teaching Artist & Art Therapist

Art House Blog

Wrong Planet Syndrome!

Posted by Marney Schorr on July 17, 2014 at 1:35 AM

I am reading Peter Vermeulen's 'Autistic Thinking - This is the Title' which is giving me a plain insight that I have craved working with youngsters with autism.


I feel compelled to share about it all this evening.


I am not on the autistic spectrum and yet I relate in many respects. I genuinely get confused by the game of language I hear every day. I just don't get people alot of times.


Francesca Happe writes that people with autism spectrum disorders often describe their experience of life as being like on an alien planet. He even calls it Wrong Planet Syndrome! He says:


[non-autistic folk] "often talk about the difficulty people with autism have in understanding the intricacies and nuances of the social world, and the mistakes that are made. But it is clear that the failure of understanding can go both ways. We have no idea what it is to see the world through the eyes of autism...we offend the logic of the autistic mind, we confuse with indirect and non-literal langage, we exasperate with our unpredictability."


Whew! That's enough of a language game to confuse anyone whether we nod our heads and pretend we understand or not.


Most of my friends are 'different'. And let's face it. They are more original than those 'normal' people I find boring. Yes I too, prefer Wrong Planet Syndrome.


I have arged that society is threatened by such originality but would be better to open the door to it. If society changed, special needs would be special gifts.


I was moved today by a young man who shined like a wildflower on an ordinary summer day. He got me smiling, laughing and being amazed at his simple organization of the creative endeavor I planned.


I whipped out my format camera and he took to it instantly. We took photos of the outdoors and printed them and then mounted them on large oak tag.


Then came the watercolor paints. He spontaneously chose two colors and started painting, unprompted, like a famous virtuoso. Gentle! I proclaimed. Afterall, only I can ruin my brushes. 


We shared a passion for color and paint. My spirit soared.


So we took it back to the computer. Words on a screen took the form of dialogue which took the form of a poem. Colors and photos of summertime - translated into language. His language.


It all happened so fast I took a backseat in my art therapist role and sat watching as an inspired spectator.


And so here is the simple, organized, literal, rhythmic and poetic words my auti friend shared with his personal art:


Blue garden and red garden


Outside at hang out

Run walk jump skip

Lay down on the hammock

Swimming in the pool

I would say fire pit

What would you say?

I say rocks

Paint a picture.



Categories: Out in the Field

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