Translating Myself

My natural language is not words

It is feelings, colors, tastes, sounds, and sensations


I exist, therefore I must explore

To learn the world I live in

Understand each thing’s language

Whatever it may be

To understand the world

To understand myself

To connect


I speak sometimes but words are limited

Feelings must be translated into words and then back again

It is awkward and slow


They don’t understand and

I need to know more than they say

More than they think I should need to know

We struggle to communicate

They are used to a world where everyone speaks their brain’s language

Mine moves my body and my face in ways that theirs takes offense to

I say the wrong words the wrong way at the wrong time, they think

And because they are taught they are right

They don’t think they should have to even try

So I am the one who gets blamed

When the bridge I was trying so hard to build from my side to theirs

Inevitably collapses


I lose spoken words

Sometimes they are not there

Other times I have to cut each one out of my gut

And end up with a gaping wound

That heals very slowly


Nature and science and art are safer


More understandable

More gentle with me


My senses are more reliable

More supportive and

More tangible


They are insatiable yet often overwhelmed

I need to turn the volume down to eat

Notes took up the space in my brain

Which flavors now need to occupy


I dive headfirst into everything

Needing to learn

Needing to experience

Needing to connect through it

In ways that most people do not understand

In ways I don’t always understand

These needs pull on my entire being


I speak the language of melodic whispers, soft textures and vibrant colors

With paint

With plants

With plushies

With everything around me


I cannot tune anything out

It is beautiful and it is painful


I would not give it up for anything

It is who I am


When I meet someone who understands that everything has a language

And speaks one of mine

The information flows freely between us

It sparkles and

We glow

April Marie Mai

"Unicorn" by April Marie Mai, Acrylic and Glitter on Canvas, 36"x48"x1.5" 2022

“Unicorn” by April Marie Mai, Acrylic, Glitter, and Confetti on Canvas. 36″ x 48″ x 1.5″ 2022 A horizontal rectangle impasto thick paint acrylic abstract painting with teal, sky blue, pink, light purple, lemon yellow, red, magenta, gold, silver and white; with fine iridescent shimmery glitter. The colors mix around. Each swipe of the palette knife is different and contains multiple colors. The left side has more red and magenta, the main colors are teal, sky blue and light purple, and white swirls down from the top right corner, creating movement. The experience of it, to me, feels like seeing a magical abstract pastel rainbow unicorn.

Each Autistic person has a different brain structure and different brain chemical reactions, and thus different experiences. I hope this is an accessible window into my brain. I hope that it helps you to understand that we are all different, and we are all here, and to have more patience and understanding. I hope you work to bridge the gap in communication so that you can meet your conversation partner partway instead of expecting them to do all the work. Whether or not we react the way you expect, Autistic people can hear and understand you. We are not in our own worlds; we are just as present in this one as you are. Presume competence, be patient, and look to communicate with others in their own language.

"Unicorn" Detail Images