Lucy, child-woman. And brain on damaged brainstem, Which misdirects signals from active body to intelligent mind.
Yes – I am a writer and a poet – and I actually composed poetry in my soul, and then my mind when all my language was inside me. Now I write for fun, and so I need to stand outside myself and look at who I am.
Brown hair, size 12 woman, flapping fingers and the heroine of 40 years without speech. So I see myself as a character, possibly puck-like, happy and bouncing from place to place – a bit of a tigger there! – so not sure yet.
My secret is that I have autism because, yes, I see that in the mirror – a kind of multilayered effect, not imaginary but a real view of my silver-banned world in glass.
My most memorable experience was being aware I had language in my head – that was when I had the ability to read with meaning and no one knew. I was really sad. I was only five.
“The book was from the library and it had pictures.
The sea was taffeta and I flipped the pages.
Then the black shapes all linked with the words she spoke.
I cooed and hummed, but my soul wept. She read aloud but I could not.
The weary anger was in me, not the book.”
The moment that I saw other people outside ‘DEAL’ (Rosemary Crossley’s Facilitated Communication Centre in Melbourne) using typing was extraordinary; the first time then I realised that I was not the only intelligent person without language, or speech rather. The whole of my world changed. Facilitation is a partnership that makes me touch the letters I intend.
Rather than being a single, peculiar freak I had now entered a mysterious masonry of hidden brilliance. That was dreadful because before this, each of us had thought that we (ie she/he) were not with other people as bright as us. Very humbling.
I was already a published author of Lucy’s Story: Autism and Other Adventures, graduate and poet before the Brotherhood, and had also met other facilitation users with the same background. It was the non-clinical environment, and the sheer fun that renewed my enthusiasm and gave me complete acceptance with my peers, not as a freak. Here it is OK to be intelligent, creative and also behaviourally weird.
So I would say, really actually walking in the door for the first time, and then making a stage appearance was pretty ground breaking! The Brotherhood has been ten years of companionship with The Touch of Thought in Concert.
My last words would be: “Hey, where are heaven’s keys”?
Others would say: “She was a writer”. “She knows what defines her world, her vision, the sound around her, and where she floats in space – Mars the next destination”.
Born with Autism, Lucy could not understand much of what was said around her. Her own language came later from newspapers and books. She created stories and poems in her head from the words she had read. As an adult she still barely speaks.
In her teens she started using a keyboard with someone touching her arm, but that was not a substitute for ordinary speech. Lucy’s language had developed in a world of her own making in which she had never passed on information to someone else. Even today she does not answer questions in the same way as other people.
Lucy’s ambition was to write a book. She went to High School. She wrote letters and essays, learnt how to explain herself and began to create characters in her stories. While writing she started to understand her own autism, and through that understanding she came to type on a computer with no physical support to complete her BA (Hons) in Literary Studies.
An essential resource for anyone interested in autism, sensory issues, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), language and the practice of writing, Lucy’s Story is also an intriguing, poignant and exciting autobiography.
Praise for Lucy’s work
Lucy is an amazing woman.
Lucy’s book is wonderful, playful, highly intelligent and utterly tell it like it is. Her book introduces the reader not only to the little-known world of facilitated communication (through typing) but also to her relationship with her colorful quirky family and her life in Australia. Having met Lucy many times, I know she is as much an inspiration to people through this book as she is to those who meet her.
One of the best books I ever read
This young woman has written a truly outstanding book. She describes a life that no fiction writer could imagine. Her journey, along with her family is truly heroic while it is also just life happening as it does with families. I found a lot to learn about my life with Aspergers in this book. While very different externally, I began to understand how and why certain external conditions “set me off” or cause meltdowns by reading her more severe experiences with sensory problems or dealing with that thing sometimes called the real world. In this she helped me to find some solutions for my problems. ASD is not an easy thing but there is appreciation of the goodness of ASD life here. Life is a mixed bag for all people. It’s just more extreme, in my opinion for those with ASD.
Saying all this I hope the reader does not imagine that I have had exactly the sort of challenges Lucy has faced. I also have not had the support of her family which sounds wonderful yet real. Who would choose to have ASD in the family especially the non-verbal kind? (Some people in my family might think they would prefer that! LOL)
Beyond all that she seems like an unintentional role model in her indomitable spirit of personal growth and human love.
An Autistic Life
This is the autobiography of Lucy Blackman, an amazing autistic woman who has made remarkable progress in adjusting to the world despite her autism. Facilitated communication and auditory integration therapy play major roles. What I found particularly valuable (but at times hard to understand) were the insights she gained into her own difficulties when she saw changes as a result of these therapies and techniques. This book is hard to follow at times, but worth the effort for anyone trying to understand autism.
Amazing insight into autism
Amazing book. I bought for friend who works with kids with autism. I also have 2 daughters with autism my youngest is very like Lucy so her story gave me hope.