The Wall: A Tale of Sensory Distress

The Wall: A Tale of Sensory Distress

Today I hit a wall.

Some days you keep going, push through, find your flow and coast home. Not today.

I woke sweating around 7am. The sun was up, the day warming. Warming my bedroom a little too much it would seem. I hate that clingy feeling as the sheets adhere to my damp skin where it’s not covered by my pyjamas. I kicked off the duvet–I especially hate this transitional period in the weather between comfortable and hot, when I awake early feeling too cold if I lie on top, and wake drenched as if I’ve come from the shower if I get under the covers–turned over and tried in vain to grasp the fading tendrils of sleep.

It wasn’t to be. Sleep, once departed from the stage, was unwilling to put in a curtain call, however brief.

I’d had about 6 hours sleep which sounds okay unless you–like me–are the kind of person who really needs her sleep if things aren’t going to go south at some point.

I could tell I wasn’t quite right after I got to work and needed to put my headphones on almost immediately to cope with the noise level from the air conditioning, computers and people. It’s a strange feeling: each of the noises is not particularly intrusive and I can usually filter them out. But when I can’t do that, often because of tiredness, they start clamouring for attention and my brain hops from one to another in a vain attempt to glean some meaning from the signal. They’re beaming in and my brain just shrugs, “What’s the frequency, Kenneth?”

So I plug in my headphones, put them on, and first up on the Spotify playlist is Loose Fit by the Happy Mondays. Top, sorted tune: guaranteed not to twist my melon, know what I mean?

Things are feeling okay until we have our team meeting, where we stand around and tell each other how hard we worked yesterday. Well, there’s other people talking in far corners and my hearing starts going a bit “glitchy” where all the words pile in from every direction and jumble together.

By the time we get around to my turn I’ve had to sit down because I’m getting disoriented and slightly confused by all the sounds. I make it through and crawl back under my headphones to be soothed once more by the aural nectar of proper Manc voices singing the best that the 90s could produce in what was for a time the music capital of the known world. (Okay, I admit it: I’m into that whole Madchester sound. What can I say? I was born in Manchester and grew up with those bands.)

Fast forward a few hours and the magic of the noise-cancelling headphones is starting to wear off. Don’t get me wrong: they’re fantastic and I can get through a lot more with them, but they’re no substitute for an environment that’s sensory-friendly from the start. I’m at the point where my tiredness kicks in and my tinnitus starts to intrude. That’s something the headphones can’t help with; indeed, they often make it harder to ignore.

My tinnitus isn’t loud but it is constant. And it saps beneath the walls of my ability to bear it, gradually weakening them until at last they fall and I’m left with no defence against its assault on my senses.

So far I’ve only mentioned noise and hearing, but one of the effects of sensory overload is that it increases the responsiveness of some of my other senses, particularly my sight. In basic terms, light appears brighter.

Of course it’s not quite that simple because my vision gets “glitchy” in a way that kind of equivalent to my hearing, which I guess makes sense. As well as seeming brighter, everything gets a bit sparkly and where there’s contrast between lighter and darker–something like, say, text on a screen that I’m trying to read–it all gets a shimmery aura around the edges that is distracting as all hell.

So that’s what I was experiencing this afternoon when it finally reached the point where I couldn’t stand any more. Will power wasn’t going to overcome it no matter what: I’d run into the brick wall of my physical and mental limitations. So I did what any sensible person would do: I gave up and went home.

Er, no, I didn’t. That’s what a sensible person would do, but I think I’ve managed to demonstrate time and again that I’m not one of those. No, what I did was find a vacant meeting room and lie down on the floor with the lights off for a little while until my head stopped clamouring. And then I got up and went back to my desk and tried again.

This is far from the first time I’ve had sensory overload at work, and every time I keep trying and pushing myself in the hope that this time it’ll be different and I’ll be fine. And do you know what?

I wasn’t. I never am. This time was just like every other time: a failure.

Okay, perhaps failure is harsh but that’s how it feels, and every time I fail the cracks inside open up a little more: I become a little more broken. Because I ought to be able to handle it, or so the voice in my soul says. And it wouldn’t lie to me, would it?

More Thoughts on #Neurodiversity

More Thoughts on #Neurodiversity

The concept of neurodiversity (see my previous post) is simple, concise and neutral. Unfortunately that’s only the starting point for something a whole lot more complicated. Here I will try to explore and explain some of that complexity.

Dichotomy Dialectic

Something that’s become tied into neurodiversity, despite that concept having nothing to say about it in any way, is the idea that the neurodiverse world can or should be divided into two parts, often labelled neurotypical and neurodivergent.

These groups are supposed to differ along lines of cognitive function or neurology (i.e. different “neurotypes”), and that difference results in impairment, disability, prejudice, oppression, or other inequality and inequity for one group compared with the other.

Reasons for defining a group like this include:

  • to provide an overall identity for the purpose of referring to people in an all-encompassing and inclusive way,
  • to enable collective action by and/or for the group,
  • to foster solidarity through a shared cultural identity.

The Social Model

Most of the existing activity around neurodivergence neatly parallels the social model of disability, and indeed has been informed by that. Like its disability counterpart, the neurodiversity social model is primarily intended to politicise the struggles of neurodivergent people, thereby raising awareness and challenging existing societal norms.

While the social model of disability has been successful in furthering disability equality and rights, it has arguably been much less successful as a tool for communicating and explaining the experiences of disabled people. Indeed, for most people disability remains synonymous with physical impairment.

Part of that is because it is essentialist in that it positions disabled people as one group and de-emphasises the individual in favour of a “sameness of difference” approach. It also serves some members of the group better than others: a focus on physical impairment and adjustments to the social environment has historically left learning-disabled people and others whose disabilities are not primarily physical still facing the same obstacles.

The social model as applied to neurodiversity can be expected to have a similar impact and success, but we need to remain aware that like all models it has limitations.

The Problem with Neurotypical

Neurotypical is a term that’s been around a while and is generally used to refer to those people who are not autistic or otherwise neurodivergent (I’m not going to focus on its informal use to mean non-autistic). But it’s not actually a thing that exists: the whole point of neurodiversity is that there’s simply diversity.

If you separate autistics from the general population, then take away dyslexics and those having ADHD and so on, then you’re not left with people who have one particular neurotype: they’re still neurodiverse. What we often call neurotypical people are neurodivergent from each other. Because that’s simply the fact of human variation.

Neurotypical (NT) is a social construction, a convenient fiction to collect together all those who aren’t any form of “neurodivergent” (ND). Whereas neurodivergent is… You see where I’m headed here? Each one is essentially defined as not being the other: everybody is either NT or ND. So there’s presumably a line between them, but where do you draw it? That’s tricky, to put it mildly.

The other problem I have with neurotypical is that whichever way you come at it you end up falling back on the idea that there is something deemed “normal” or “typical” from which everything else deviates. It gets dressed up in quotation marks, called a societal standard (which is just another way of saying it’s a social construction), but that’s all playing footsie with definitions that basically mean society has a concept of what it means to be normal.

I can’t speak for other people, but I find it difficult to argue against the idea that somebody can be “normal” using terminology that is underpinned by that very idea.

What’s Wrong with Normal?

Normal is a very familiar idea and one that we use in all kinds of places to mean standard, usual or typical. (For example, “What do you normally drink?”) It’s immensely useful, except that it has this well-established use when talking about “normal people” to mean people who are, as the dictionary describes it, “free from physical or mental disorders”. As soon as you start talking about differing, or diverging, from “normal”, people will infer that you are talking about “physical or mental disorders”.

The idea that some people’s neurology makes them “normal” carries the implication that this is the default, preferred state: after all, doesn’t being normal mean there’s nothing “wrong” with them? That’s language as commonly used here and now. But then by extension somebody who is neurodivergent would have “something wrong” which leads to the inference that it’s something to be fixed or cured.

Some instances of neurodivergence may not have any significant impact on the person’s life, some might be disabling or life-threatening, and many more will lie somewhere in-between. While some neurodivergent people might desire treatment or a cure, this is not the case for all and, more importantly, does not have any bearing on their status as neurodivergent.

That’s why I’m loath to use “normal” or anything derived from it.

What About Neurodivergent?

Neurodivergent is a useful umbrella term that allows us to refer to an entire group of people whose cognitive/neurological characteristics put them at risk of, or cause them to be subjected to inequity or inequality. I’m describing it this way for a reason: I’m deliberately avoiding any mention of specific conditions, or of what might be considered “normal”. I don’t even mention neurotypes. Instead it’s about the consequences of being neurodivergent.

The more usual definitions of neurodivergent have the same problem as neurotypical: they depend on the idea that one can have a normal or typical neurotype. The big question for me is whether it’s possible to define neurodivergent in a different way that doesn’t depend on anybody being neurotypical, being “normal”. Does it even make sense to do that? After all, it’s already been defined as being the opposite of neurotypical.

There’s nothing in principle stopping a group or set that’s historically been defined as being the opposite or complement of another being redefined in a different way: in terms of what it is rather than what it isn’t. We would need to step away from a literal reading of the “divergent” part and instead start thinking of neurodivergence in isolation. The alternative is to adopt a new term, or re-purpose a different existing one, thereby getting away from the whole typical/divergent dichotomy altogether.

I do have reservations about neurodivergent because of the way it holds the mirror up to normal–sorry, I mean neurotypical–with its implication of “divergence from”. For now I’ll continue to refer to this group as neurodivergent because I don’t have an alternative to hand, I’m rubbish at coining neologisms, and there’s more than enough different terms flying around already as it is.

As far as the definition of neurodivergent goes, there’s something to be said for treating it as a social construction in isolation from neurotypical. I think we’re most of the way there already in that an increasing number of people are using ND as an identity, and–as the popularity of labelling historical figures autistic or otherwise neurodivergent shows–it can be a perceived characteristic as well as something innate or acquired. We also already see movement towards describing various forms of neurodivergence primarily in terms of a collection of traits rather than deficits compared against some ideal, standard human.

What’s the Point?

It’s all very well going on about these definitions at length, but what’s the point of it all? What can we do with them? And why not just stick with autistic, dyslexic, etc.?

People with all kinds of neurodivergence face similar struggles for recognition and equality, and the same kinds of inequities. There is strength and solidarity in numbers. These are the same reasons why there is an umbrella LGBTQ+ identity that includes the whole range of sexual orientations alongside transgender people. Coming together under one banner works because for the most part any improvement for one constituent benefits most if not all of the others. As they say, a rising tide lifts all boats.

The language we use matters because it influences how we are perceived, which has a knock-on effect on how we are treated. It’s why we oppose the idea that there’s some aspirational normal that we’re failed versions of: we see that used as an excuse for inequity.

There’s a misconception that because neurodiversity proponents espouse acceptance of neurodivergence, we are opposed to any and all kinds of treatment or intervention. This is not the case. Rather, just like accepting disability and disabled people does not mean denying that some pursue treatment or cure, so accepting neurodiversity and ND people has nothing to do with whether they might want to seek treatment or cures.

What we do oppose is the exploitation of ND people and their families by those who seek to profit from their vulnerability.

What Can We Learn From Others?

I’ve already talked about strong parallels with the disability movement and neurodiversity’s adaptation of the social model. I also mentioned the similarity of neurodivergence to LGBTQ+ as an umbrella identity. But there are other areas of similarity that we can take notes from.

Neurodivergence has some equivalence in characteristics like gender where it’s becoming generally accepted that there is a lot going on beyond the over-simplistic model of mutually-exclusive binary genders. In this case, for example, there is a complex relationship between gender identity, gender presentation, and perceived gender.

The equivalent for neurodivergence would be this:

  • Identity: I’m autistic and therefore neurodivergent.
  • Presentation: I have traits that result from being autistic/neurodivergent. I am able to “mask” traits to some degree either with or without conscious choice, which affects others’ perception of me.
  • Perception: I can be perceived by others as “neurodivergent” because of my visible traits.

What I like about this framing is that it covers the perspectives of both the person (identity/presentation) and those around them (presentation/perception).

On the subject of identity, an important aspect of LGBTQ+ that informs a definition of neurodivergence separate from the medical/pathological world is the recognition of the validity of self-identification. In short, somebody is gay if they identify as such; somebody can be neurodivergent if they identify as being so. This is likely to be contentious because a number of people feel that only recognised professionals–medical professionals–should be empowered to determine ND status. However, I believe that given the desire to move away from the medical definitions of neurodivergence as a set of diagnoses we should embrace ND self-identification.

ND people face prejudice, discrimination and obstacles that relate to their neurodivergence, not to whether they have a particular medical diagnosis. Bullying at school and in workplaces occurs because people are perceived as different, not because they have any diagnosis. So it’s not reasonable to make recognition of identity–and needs–depend on diagnosis.

Finally, something that may or may need spelling out so I’ll add it just in case: the relationship of neurodivergence with disability. Like other identities such as Deaf, ND can equate to disabled in some instances, but it’s left to the individual to decide whether they are disabled based on their own situation and experiences. Neurodivergence exists independently from disability, meaning a person can be either, both, or neither.

WTF is #Neurodiversity?

WTF is #Neurodiversity?

Bust of an Ancient Greek, a people renowned for thinking about the complexities of human existence

Neurodiversity seems like a big thing right now, but what is it all about? And what’s with all the various neuro-this and neuro-that?

Neurodiversity

I’ll do the easy bit first: neurodiversity is the simple, observable fact that human minds are different from each other. Just like the variety of living organisms, which we call biodiversity. Same thing, only we’re talking about brains rather than plants and animals.

Neurodiversity by itself doesn’t say whether or not this is a good thing: it’s a neutral term that describes what we see when we observe human minds.

So what?

If that was the end of the story this would be a really short essay and you’d wonder why I even bothered writing about it. The fun starts when you pick up the neurodiversity ball and run with it. When you start asking yourself what it means, both for societies and for individuals.

When you think to yourself, “Biodiversity is good, right? Without bees and insects lots of plants would die and we’d all be struggling to survive here. So, is neuro-diversity good for us too?”

Time for a paradigm

Congratulations! You just arrived at the Neurodiversity Paradigm. What’s a paradigm? It’s a fancy name for a set of principles or propositions. It’s the proposal that neurodiversity is all part of natural human variety, just like we have diversity of culture, gender, belief, and even physical characteristics including height or eye colour.

It also proposes that, like culture, gender, belief, eye colour and all those other things that make us different from each other, no one type of brain is the “right” or “normal” one: all are equally valid.

Finally, it proposes that this diversity, like other forms of human diversity, is valuable and beneficial to human society and all of us as a species.

Enough theory already

Yeah, but what does that actually mean? What are these “different brains”? Surely we all have similar brains, right?

Well, no, not really. Mostly pretty similar up to a point, but then you get differences that we refer to as autism, or ADHD, or dyslexia, and many more that are all simply what we call it when people’s brains work differently. Process information from their senses, respond to stimuli, handle language or memory in a range of different ways.

This leads to these people having different experiences of day-to-day life, even when they’re in the same situations. because it’s their brains–their neurology–that are different we use the term neurodivergent. Divergent as in the way branches of a tree diverge or spread out from each other.

This is not saying that being neurodivergent doesn’t cause anybody problems in their lives–obviously it often does–and it’s not saying that neurodivergent people shouldn’t want or seek medical treatment or other interventions. In fact it’s quite the opposite: the aim is to improve the lives of neurodivergent people, but to do it on their own terms.

This is about social justice, eh?

Yes, that’s what all this is leading up to, something often called the Neurodiversity Movement that takes the Neurodiversity Paradigm and says that a person should not face discrimination or persecution because of their neurology, because of being neurodivergent from the majority of people around them.

This Neurodiversity Movement isn’t an organisation and doesn’t have a structure or leadership. It’s an umbrella term for a whole bunch of individuals and organisations who promote, support, campaign for the principles of the paradigm. For the civil rights of neurodivergent people.

Let’s go deeper

That all sounds fab and groovy, right? Yay, civil rights! And I agree, yes, it’s a good thing to protect the rights of neurodivergent people: those with neurologies (or neurotypes) that diverge from the most common (or predominant) ones in society, and to remove the prejudice and stigma associated with these forms of difference.

No objections so far. But remembering that neurodiversity is literally about everybody, how broad a term is neurodivergent? Who does it include, and equally importantly who does it exclude?

You won’t find much argument about including autistic people, likewise ADHD. Dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia: fine. Tourette Syndrome. Epilepsy? It’s a neurological difference even if it is potentially life-threatening, especially if untreated.

What about degenerative conditions affecting the brain such as dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, or Motor Neurone Disease? Or Traumatic Brain Injury? Do we draw a line and rule them out? Say we aren’t here for conditions we wouldn’t feel comfortable celebrating?

Should conditions that are brain-altering but pathologised (basically, regarded as disorders or diseases) be considered instances of neurodivergence? Certainly these people have to deal with the same kinds of stigma and prejudice as the neurodivergent folks I mentioned above. So shouldn’t they also be represented by the Neurodiversity Movement?

What about things we might consider mental illnesses? Depression, anxiety disorders? They affect brain function and perception. How about others such as psychosis or schizophrenia? Sadism, psychopathy, narcissism? Again, a lot of stigma associated with these conditions, a lot of prejudice.

I do think that it shouldn’t include temporary states of altered cognition induced by external influences such as drug intoxication, unlike more lasting, longer-term changes to brain function.

Still celebrating?

If we include everything that has anything to do with neurology or brain function, then we’re really inclusive and that’s good, right?

Except… You thought neurodiversity was about celebrating the differences of neurodivergence, and standing up against the medical establishment and others who seem to want to “cure” us out of existence. So how to reconcile that with including conditions that most would want to eradicate?

And if we’re including things most of us think of as mental illnesses, do we risk being perceived as being all about that? Of making neurodiversity almost synonymous with mental illness?

Do we then gatekeep, and make value judgements about what belongs in and what we keep out? Do we then risk being perceived as being unrealistically optimistic, focused only on the positive side of neurodiversity?

Or do we take a more holistic view about neurodiversity, and make the movement about the way society handles all forms of diversity, all forms of difference?

My evolving thoughts

I started out thinking in pretty simple terms about neurodiversity and neurodivergence: it was people like me. Autistic but without much else in the way of neurodivergence. From that I could relate to other forms of neurodivergence such as ADHD and dyslexia where the focus is primarily on accommodations and acceptance.

That gave me a comfortable picture of what it all meant, and it was a diversity I could feel at ease celebrating.

But I’ve recently begun to think a lot more deeply about the purpose of neurodiversity, what it’s really trying to achieve, and exploring the boundaries in an attempt to understand it better and answer some of the questions I had about its scope.

I feel I’m beginning to understand it better, but also feel a lot less comfortable and complacent.

Closing thoughts

I might seem unsure about what exactly to include, but I’m very uncomfortable with any attempt to ring fence neurodivergence and prescribe what is and what isn’t included. I feel that’s doomed to end up a question of deciding which are “real” or “acceptable” neurodivergence, and which don’t fit into a simple, neat world-view. It also falls into the trap of thinking about neurodivergence in the same pathological (“disease”, “disorder”) terms that reinforce inequality and create many of the problems we are trying to address.

The aim of neurodiversity–the movement—is to change the way society handles neurodivergence. The method is by changing how we all think about all forms of neurodivergence. At the heart of the problem is the idea that there is a “normal” neurotype from which all others diverge, and that such divergence is a problem to be corrected. Hey, I never said it was going to be easy!

It’s far from uncommon for people with all forms of neurodivergence to be pitied, abused, feared or otherwise face stigma, prejudice and to be regarded as less than people of the predominant neurotypes. This inequality manifests in power structures where neurodivergent people often have less control over their own lives, and face more pressure to cede control to others. This is a situation familiar to other non-neurological minorities.

Some forms of neurodivergence are positive and bring benefits to the individual and wider society, some are neutral, and some are negative and may pose some risk to the person or even others around them. Many more are some combination of positives and negatives, a range of different traits.

I believe that neurodiversity must inform how society deals with those whose neurodivergence poses a risk to them or to others. Current approaches are often punitive (via criminal justice systems), satisfying a desire for retribution rather than treatment or rehabilitation. Other approaches deem a person to lack competence, restricting or removing their rights. This makes neurodivergent people wary of seeking help or treatment.

Neurodiversity must find a balance between the needs of the neurodivergent individual and the needs of the society they live in. This means addressing questions such as when it might be acceptable to curtail individual rights, or to impose decisions on a person if they are deemed incapable of making a reasonable informed choice about something such as medical treatment. These are difficult questions, but that’s not a reason to avoid them.

Human society developed because living in organised groups benefits the members of those groups. Modern industrial societies are larger and require more complex organisational structures to function. As humans we like neat, simple answers. We often believe that problems can be reduced to a simple model that will explain everything. But the world doesn’t work that way. People are complex, society is complexity to the umpteenth power.

If neurodiversity is to succeed in changing society then I believe it must meet that complexity head-on. Altering attitudes and behaviour isn’t simple.

Further Reading

Probably the most widely-cited reference used to define neurodiversity is on Nick Walker’s Neurocosmopolitanism site that you can find here.

There’s also been plenty of discussion on Twitter, including this “in a nutshell” thread from Judy Singer who coined the word Neurodiversity.

Finding My Voice

Finding My Voice

Looking back through my school reports recently prior to my autism assessment, I was reminded how seldom I used to speak to anybody. One of the earliest labels I acquired was shy, and my teachers in comment after comment expressed their belief that I could go far if only I would talk more. Or, indeed, at all in a lot of situations.

The contrast between that and my assessment report which mentions my tendency to talk too much and go into too much detail is remarkable. So what changed?

There isn’t one single factor that helped me develop my self-confidence. Rather, it has been a combination of changes in my life, the most obvious of which has been my gender transition. Since reaching the point where I’m comfortable with how I look, I’ve become less self-conscious which translates into a more confident presentation.

I’ve also, with help from my wonderful daughter in particular, got out of a toxic relationship where I’d been controlled. My new-found freedom has enabled me to get out and about, spending time with friends. Indeed, it has allowed me to develop close, supportive friendships, where before I wasn’t able to due to restrictions imposed by my former partner.

As my support base has grown, so has my confidence in my own ability. I’d been gaslighted for years, told that I was no good at certain things, that I could never manage on my own. I believed it, and so was trapped in that situation by my lack of self-esteem and self-belief.

It’s been hard to break away from that dependency, and I didn’t get out unharmed: the trauma of living in fear for my safety has left me with mental health problems. But even so, I am definitely better off than I was before getting out.

Most of all, I can be myself. It took a long time to get here, but I found out who I am. For years I tried to be the person I believed those around me wanted me to be. I wore a mask that had been designed by others, and it didn’t fit. When at last the chafing became unbearable, the woman who emerged from behind that mask into the light of day needed a little time to find her feet. To find her own voice.

And I have. A voice that draws from all my experiences, all that brought me to where I am today. My voice.

AIM for the Rainbow

AIM for the Rainbow

Many of you will know that I am on the board of Autistic Inclusive Meets, an organisation run by and for autistic and neurodivergent children and adults to provide services and support, as well as actively campaigning to improve lives.

Well, I have exciting news: we’re picking up an idea we had in the early days of AIM and launching AIM for the Rainbow, a part of AIM that will focus on the particular needs of autistic and neurodivergent LGBTQIA+ people of all ages.

I’m especially proud to be involved as an autistic bisexual trans woman. I intend to make this the kind of resource I wish I’d had when I was growing up. Information, support, and connecting with your peers are of the utmost importance when you’re discovering your own gender and sexuality, so we want this to be a safe space where people can do this without fear.

We’ll be collecting links to resources that we personally trust and endorse. We’ll share our stories, and those of others like us. And we’ll be working to improve the lives of all of us under the rainbow.

It’s going to be great. We’re aiming high: we’re aiming for the Rainbow!

Nobody’s Puppet

Nobody’s Puppet

I heard about the play, All in a Row, the other day. Specifically, I read what the writer had to say about deciding that the character of an autistic boy with “challenging behaviour” could only be portrayed by a puppet.

I know so many autistic people who have dedicated many years to overcoming society’s prejudices, fighting against the dehumanisation and othering of autistic children and adults.

And then we saw this. Among a cast of real humans, played by human actors, the single autistic is indelibly marked as an outsider. Perhaps he can, like Pinocchio, dream of one day becoming a real boy, but for now he’s cast out of humanity.

It’s hard to express just how painful it is as an autistic person to see someone who is essentially like you–the character with whom you have the most in common–portrayed this way. To be dehumanised, an empty, soulless shell incapable of any thought, feeling or expression, whose every action is in response another’s command.

This is the very embodiment of the prejudice and, yes, even hate that we face in our autistic lives. We live the reality of being labelled emotionless, incompetent, unfeeling, thoughtless. The agonising wounds of our experiences are opened afresh by this careless action, by seeing this puppet represent every insult levelled at us by our bullies and abusers.

And that is why using a puppet to portray an autistic person among a cast of human actors is unacceptable.

An empty boy with empty head,
My only life is what you bring
In gift each day, my will is yours.
I go where you direct my string.

What do you see inside this shell,
Behind this vacant glassy stare?
Could anybody care enough
To ever see the person there?

I didn't ask to be your puppet
To play this part that you defined.
Am I lost, forever other,
Denied my place with human kind?