Voices clamor over me
While I wait and
Try to breathe
In and
In and
In and
In and

Voices saying they
Know my life
Better than I do
That they are the experts
That what I need isn’t
A world that accepts me
A world that doesn’t hurt me
And others like me

They say
That what I need
Is to be forced to change
What their children need
Is to be abused into conformity
With Applied Behavior Analysis
That Autistic voices don’t matter
Unless we’re saying
What they want to be true
Unless we’re validating them

Meanwhile no one is
Validating their child

I know what
That feels like

So I scream into the void
Trying to get
Anyone to listen
Trying to make
Just one child
Feel validated

How many will it take
Until the child in me
Feels validated?

How will I even know
I’m making a difference?

My yogurt
Needs sprinkles
My pickles can only
Be bread and butter
With the crinkle cut
No mushrooms
Tolerated in my food
That squishy texture
Is torture

When I finally manage to
Get a tiny platform
Parents of
Autistic kids
Say no
Their child is not like me
Therefore they don’t
Need to listen to me
While we eat the same
Crinkle cut pickles
Wear the same ear plugs
Avoid the same eyes
Hope for the same
They send me
Hate mail

I cry for their child
Not for the reasons
They do

They cry because
Their child is different
And they wish
They were the same

I cry because
I know their child’s pain
I know that
They are perfect
Just the way they are
I wish that they could
Be seen and
Celebrated and
Loved for
Who they are
Because they
Need it and
Deserve it

But that will only happen
If our voices are
Finally heard
Finally heeded

©2022 April Marie Mai
Berries Painting

“Berries” by April Marie Mai

A square impasto thick paint acrylic abstract painting with purple, red, green, blue, teal and white combining in an expressive palette knife movement style that makes little rainbows of different colors. Each palette knife stroke has so much going on in this painting. There is added texture on the right side. The colors are scattered around, and it looks juicy. Each swipe of the palette knife is different and contains multiple colors. The sides of the painting are green. 12”x12”x1.5”

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