Jeremiah Savant’s ‘Inside the Inside’
A Parallel Companion to ‘Adventures In Mental Health‘
Remember back to when you were learning something; if you can recall it, back to the very foundation of learning to read and write – or even to speak – and how now you may have amusing anecdotes about how you would mispronounce or misspell something… or think about learning to drive, and how co-ordinating all the arms and legs (and whoops-a-daisy) in a smooth ballet of vehicle operation tangled with everything you are supposed to remember about the Highway Code. Consider the frustrations you had in the early days of these experiences, and how they inhibited your progress until one day, it suddenly sank in and you got that one thing right.
On the one hand, everyone experiences such things; yet on the other, there are many of us for whom the acquisition of that knowledge is a deliberate act of will. It is not – such as in the early school years – learning subjects because we are told it is what we do, by methods others choose for us. Nor is it limited to these academic subjects – no matter how useful they are in ‘real life’: maths, English and so on. It is everything.
At some point when younger, you may have been coached in how to behave in a particular situation – anything from a formal occasion and meeting ‘important’ people of some kind to a job interview scenario. Imagine that you see others around you simply in ‘normal life’ behaving in what is seen to be the accepted fashion… and you cannot work out how they knew to do these things. A smile of certain kind means… what? How far away from each other do people stand and why? This or that are not the sorts of replies given to those questions – so what is the purpose of using those questions? Surely different greetings are easier to use? Standard social interaction. So baffling. What are the rules, and from whence came they? Yet underpinning that constant confusion is a strange and sometimes wonderful Knowledge.
For some, it may be a natural grasp of some form of mathematics; others may be able to memorise things almost instantly. Some may be able to draw in near-photographic detail – or even to play an instrument with absolute precision. Such abilities are recognised as the ‘plus-side’ of such as I, wandering this withering earth with our senses overloaded and wondering how people can be so blind to the glaringly obvious, yet we are constantly reminded of our own peculiarities in that department.
Those abilities are regarded as, ‘their method of communicating with us Normals,’ and ‘how they make sense of the world.’ For many, the condition which enhances such natural talents to near-superhuman status is one which is hidden: unless you knew for sure, you would not know. It mostly cannot be seen, yet it often manifests itself in shyness or mood swings; perhaps an abrasive personality or just someone who does not particularly care about others – not in an active and selfish way, like a lot of people seem to behave.
Not, ‘I want this, and you can’t have it,’ but, ‘I’m sure your family pictures are very nice, and you enjoy your spouse/child/pet, but I’m afraid I’m not very interested in that sort of thing.’ Said as kindly as possible, of course, there is no need to be offensive about it.
Somehow, I just knew. I did not know what it was that I knew, nor how, nor what it meant. I just… knew. This knowledge was not about something that I merely suspected, nor ‘had an inkling about,’ it was full on, in-yer-face knowledge. I did not know that I am one of many, nor that it is a thing – recognised and somewhat quantifiable – which is called a ‘Spectrum Disorder’.
Within this so-called ‘Spectrum Disorder’ is a group which rarely is found, usually not diagnosed and definitely overlooked. We are not the ultra-geeks of the procedural adventure show Scorpion, we are not Rain Man – nor are we that young man who now makes a lucrative living with his artworks – we are something else. We don’t fit their criteria because our ‘superhuman abilities’ lie at the heart of something we either cannot do nor have any interest in doing normally. We are not fetishised by any form of fiction – whether based on ‘real events’ or not. The reason:
Playscripts of any sort.
Many can sight-read aloud a poorly written piece and make it sound better than it is. Others can write a piece, and no matter the apparent complexity of the punctuation or word forms, that piece will somehow seem accessible and elegant… and the silent ‘read-aloud’ voice articulating the piece in the reader’s theatre of the mind always reproduces that author’s phrasing. Perhaps not the exact tone of voice – many parts of it are open to individual interpretation – but consider: have you ever been surprised by hearing a reading of a piece you have only ever experienced written on the page?
Others of us can take any playscript of any quality and bring any character to life – some even can so alter their everyday selves to a character that they could be a forty-year-old man with a beard portraying an eight-year-old little girl and all you would perceive is the little girl.
Take away our reasons to write, remove us from the arenas of theatre and performance, and it is as if we cease to be.
I am one these.
My name is Jeremiah Savant, and I am on the Autistic Spectrum.
I also know how to love…
Jeremiah Savant’s ‘Inside the Inside’ is a parallel companion to ‘Adventures In Mental Health‘.
If you would like to connect with Jeremiah, or have any questions about this series, feel free to get in touch.