I’m working on my memoirs. They’re the record of my life’s attempts to mine the jewel of that all-pervading mystery of why things are as they are. My goal is to tap as deeply into pure consciousness as possible, to discover the meaning to my existence. It’s a story of becoming, and how late diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome at age 48 unravelled many mysteries and revealed to me my vocation.
Through my newly acquired lens of the autistic spectrum, I explore a life of soul-searching and mysticism, including twenty years living as a strict Sufi-Muslim, an overland trip to Mecca for the Hajj. I reflect on a turbulent childhood with glimpses of a truer world, a troubled youth in Sheffield, profound experiences with hallucinogens, hitch-hiking to free festivals, a spell in a young offenders institute, finding a way out of drugs into religion, marriage, home-schooling, divorce, as a postman on the Isle of Skye, as a multi-faith chaplain, a film-maker and an experimental music promoter, an artist-educator, a university student, a food business owner and finally working in Mindfulness, Dialogue and Autism.
My book works with the idea that life is our greatest teacher and so has growth to selfhood at the core. It’s a personal search for self with hope, reconciliation, finding happiness and becoming human.
I explore the challenges of living spiritually, consciously and socially in the Western secular world, personally and by observation, the many challenges of Aspergers and ADHD and being labelled as disabled.
The book will hopefully appeal to a wide audience, particularly those working in the field of autism and different cultures.
I never would’ve considered myself disabled. I argue that disability, particularly autism, is a societal and contextual matter and there are many things disabled with our society too. Autistics can have a ‘spiky profile’ with social limitations but at the same time may be of higher than normal intelligence and therefore utilise aspects of their condition for positive means, excelling when alone. A person with no legs is no different from a person with legs, when both are lying down. Taking this discussion as wide as possible, self-acceptance of one’s uniqueness becomes a positive, identifying factor. Is autism a social phenomenon? I want to know why some autistic people on one hand need to assert their individuality / autism as a strength but at the same time seem to be frustrated with a perceived lack of others’ acceptance of them. Autism has become a movement, which seems to have some paradoxes…
A disability as complex as autism requires an experiential viewpoint and from people who have lived on both sides of diagnosis. I present my own experiences and it will be up to the reader to decide if I’m an expert or not.
‘Is God an Autistic?’ is the working title and publication is currently planned for Winter 2017.