Sensory overload, water stims and tantrums: Autism moments captured in poetry

This evocative poetry, capturing moments familiar to many autism families, ping pongs its perspective, shifting from mother to autistic child, almost as if the duo were a single entity.

Writer Tom Graham is a 38 year-old autistic man who spent most of his school years in special education, diagnosed with a speech and language disorder/learning disability, before being re-diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. He spent five years of his adult life as a psychiatric inpatient and currently resides in supported accommodation in the southwest of England. We hope you enjoy his work. —The editors

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Soulful eyes that rarely connect
nevertheless acutely aware.
A tangled mop of curly brown hair
grooming is so unfair.

Running in circles
a hand raised
fingers splayed
in front of the eyes.

The purpose of which
one can only guess
to make it less
filtering out the mess.


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If it happens to be wet
your interest is a safe bet
it starts as a trickle
soon I'll be in a pickle.

Do I get in your way
or let you play
Mother will be cross
it's her loss.

Witnessing your joy
it's worth the ploy
as the taps run
it's all good fun.

Keeping a lookout
while you scream and shout
the floor’s a lake
you're killing me, Jake.

Scrambling for the mop
that's your lot
you're bound to resist
she's gonna be pissed.

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Stock photo



A hand to the mouth
it's all gone south
he takes a bite
trying to set things right.

Chewing his flesh
making a horrible mess
it's a cry for help
he's ready to melt.

A trickle of blood
becomes a flood
it’s gone too far
there’ll be a scar.

Time to intervene
makes me feel mean
he begins to scream
it's like a bad dream.

Trying to get a grip
everything’s gone to shit
love will out
that's what it's all about.

Tom can be contacted via his Twitter account, @serverusautismo.

All poems ©2019 Tom Graham