My body is my best feature as my brain is yours for the taking.
My body can fly because it can think outside the square.
My body is my friend, we seldom go anywhere without it.
My voice is my friend with the board.
My voice is a facilitator who cares.
My voice can be heard in the big wide world NOW.
My sex is the colour of love.
My sex, the raging waters of Niagra.
My sex will comfort my ability to speak.
My bones rattle when I fly.
My bones can carry the load if my mind can reach its goals.
I miss my grandma.
I miss the freedom of choice on personal ideas.
I miss being me.
I miss the ability to disappear while actually being there.
The reality is I need to be seen for myself to be or not to be.
I feel you are the connection to my visibility.
That presence I am is due to you making me real.
The person I am is what the world needs to see for me to be or not to be.
To be me and you is to be David the writer.
The wind is like a ghost,
Stripping leaves from the trees,
Scattering the rubbish down the road.
It is a good strong wind, it is a gentle wind
Like a soft blanket I pull over my head.
It makes me want to walk on the beach;
To put my feet in the water; no fear of cold.
The wind is my friend and companion.
We can walk together and accept each other.
We see the world from our own perspective,
No one sees us,
No one to criticize, to be judgemental.
This wind is friendly and gentle
But it can be strong, aggressive and mean.
It can rip through houses and pastures destroying the earth,
But then be gentle like the clouds
that scud across the heavens giving the earth a bath in gentleness.
The David you see today is very different to the boy of a few years ago. Then, I didn’t belong to the human race and was very frustrated with my disability. I have come a long way and feel it is largely due to the Brotherhood because it provides companionship I don’t find anywhere else in my world. It is a place that values us and makes our attempts at communication valid and worthwhile. I find it is a place of acceptance and nurturing where we are all invited to be the best we can be. I always look forward to going to the Brotherhood.
I went to Aspley Special School and didn’t do anything interesting there. When I discovered FC at the age of 22, I felt I was born again. The world became a place where I could inhabit a space where I had opinions and wishes which I could achieve and other people were happy to listen to me. Yes the idea of participating in life became tantalizing to me and I grabbed it with both hands.
The first time I met Alice (for an assessment) was overwhelming because she sat in this messy room with cobwebs hanging from the lampshades, so anything she said would have been unexpected to me. Her manner was so unusual that I wasn’t sure about anything. I hadn’t seen anyone do FC before, so it was a complete revelation to me that I could communicate that way. To be able to hold a fully adult conversation with anyone was so amazing that I was blown away. The concept of language was reconfigured in my mind that day and I’ve never looked back.
The idea of being an equal with the rest of the human race was new to me. I was awestruck and confused at the same time. It felt like a flower opening up to let the light into the heart of the flower, which was my life. Until then, I had felt like a non-person who didn’t fit in anywhere in the world but after I felt there may just be a place in the world for me. It is a long time ago, but I can recall that feeling again of emerging from the swamp. Having known what it was like in the swamp, I appreciate coming out so much to be able to be part of the world.
I thought Alice was a lifesaver who threw me a rescue device just in time to save me before I went over the cliff. I think I would be unable to cope with my life if I hadn’t found a way through the fog. If I could not type I think I would have ended it by now, because it was just frustrating to have the knowledge and feelings, but not to be able to express them.
I look back at that boy who couldn’t communicate and feel very sorry for him and his limitations. To be able to tell my feelings to my family has made a difference. I have a life that is what I wanted, with work and fun and company that I didn’t have before.
Until I could type, I couldn’t say what I wanted to my parents so they just guessed and often got it wrong. When it came to birthdays I got so much stuff I didn’t want and couldn’t use, that it was embarrassing because they had an expectation of delight from me that was impossible to pretend. I felt sorry for them when they thought they had got it right and I was lukewarm about it. It was another stress in my life that added to all the rest.
Autism is the thing that stops me from participating fully in the community but I also have a fondness for this thing because it defines me and I can’t live without my little routines. I need them to cope with the neurotypical world which the rest of you inhabit. While it stops me from being wholly in the world, with a bit of help I can almost get into the mainstream. The use of FC has made an extraordinary difference to my world and I feel more things are achievable with FC. If I hadn’t discovered FC I would be so lonely and frustrated, I doubt I would be functioning at all.
Understand that to be me is to need this form of communication to survive in your world and to thrive as a person. I have always liked writing even in my head, daily events, outings, people, life, world et al. I feel very validated to now be able to put my thoughts and imaginings on paper and use all types of technology. I use really authentic words just like the dictionary, using phrases and English to a very bright level. Without my facilitators, I would be deaf and speechless again. They have been able to learn my ways of writing. They sometimes anticipate my words but I am able to override their ideas most times. The Brotherhood has helped me to perform for others as with our efforts at the State Library and the fabulous Cabaret.
In 2013 I visited South Africa. I was overwhelmed with the horror of meeting my new family. I really found the way they had to live behind electric fences horrifying. They have a great circle of friends and had lots of gatherings and parties but what lay beyond those fences was scary. The beautiful homes and gardens could not dispel the feeling that one day the walls could be battered down. The lifestyle smacked of everyday life but I could not have lived there. The violence and theft on the streets is dreadful. The people of South Africa are completely dictated to and from what I could understand the corruption in the government is pretty bad. Thank God we live here in Australia.
As a tribute on my death David Stavanger would say: “David Goldsmith, the greatest excuse for a politician’s change of mind”.
Sue from TAFE would say: “David can write under water”.
My TAFE classmates would say: “He was the best quoter in the whole class. We called him David the Dictionary”.
ARTIST PROFILE, MARCH 2018
David, Interviewed by Ann-Maree Long.
AFTERNOON TEA WITH DAVID:
A bit about yourself?
I am 34 years old and from right here in Boondall.
Travels, have you been around Australia and/or overseas?
Yes we went to Tasmania. It was okay but we were in a caravan and we were very close together.
We went to South Africa, it was awesome. I saw so much difference in our way of life.
How’d you find out about the Brotherhood?
Yes I heard about the Brotherhood from Alice in 2015.
What impact has the Brotherhood had on your life?
I love the Brotherhood most of all days of my life. I feel so valued there and love the way David and Alice get such good writing from us.
Where do you want to see the Brotherhood in a few years? Members and services etc?
Would love it to stay just as it is.
Your personal goals for the year ahead? As well as creative goals?
I just want to be the best David I can be. It can be hard to manage life with Autism so I’m always trying to manage that.
What does Autism mean to you?
It stops me from participating in the real world because I have anxieties and they intrude.
As an individual with speech difficulties, what is a message you want to spread with the wider community?
Just give us some extra time and patience, we have lots to give.
Do you have a favourite quote/if so why?
“I think I am super David inside the autistic David”.
Do you have an inspiration or object that you draw inspiration from? What and why?
I think the world in general, I find fascinating and perplexing.
I love old rock music like Credence Clearwater Revival.
David has created a group named the ‘BOONDALL BUDDIES’, who support and reconnect at monthly meetings.