Caiseal in his own words.
I was born in the early sixties near Brisbane- one of the main urban centres of Australia. My family were fairly typical of most Australians of the time. They were working class, poorly educated and small-minded. Anyone who appeared to be outside the narrow range of what was considered "normal" in those days had a hard time. At different times I was labelled an uncontrollable child, mentally deficient, retarded, psychotic, intellectually impaired, deaf, stupid and an idiot.
It wasn't until I was seven years of age that I first heard the word Autistic applied to me. In those days Autism wasn't well understood. There were no special schools and few, if any, health professionals in Australia had experience of the Autistic Spectrum.
I preferred the company of animals to that of humans. I ate my own faeces, screamed whenever I was touched, laughed like a loon in twelve hour stretches and often lapsed into a catatonic state where no one could reach me.
My experience of the world was intensified by my finely-tuned, hyperactive senses. My life constantly lurched between catatonia and rage, stopping at all stations along the way. The family instituted a regime of punishment in the hope of forcing me to conform to acceptable standards of behaviour. However, they did not understand that I was merely reacting to the overwhelming nature of the sensory information I was experiencing. Their violence, aggression and anger only made things worse. By the age of twelve I was frightened, traumatised, confused and constantly on guard against the threat of physical attack.
My parents were terribly ashamed of me so they kept me apart from other people as much as possible. I came to believe I would never be allowed to associate with normal people and expected to be institutionalised as soon as my name came up on the waiting list. My family wrote me off as a hopeless case and taught me to believe I was not human.
Despite all the problems I had conforming to the norm I loved music, art, poetry and painting. I pursued these interests in secret to avoid punishment. Creativity became my lifeboat. I lived for it and learned to enjoy life immensely through creative pursuits. My head was crammed full of melodies I'd heard on television. I learned to speak French in a few months by listening to the short-wave radio.
By the time I was sixteen I was aware I could learn any skill and perform any task I put my mind to- as long as I was sufficiently obsessed. After I ran away from home I travelled the world alone for five years, learning languages, developing my skills as a musician and singer and soaking up experiences.
I put myself through university, earning a degree in theatre practice before becoming a high school teacher for a short while. However, the pressure to present myself as normal was too much and eventually I had to abandon teaching as a profession. I ended up becoming an internationally published best-selling author, an accomplished musician, a film-maker, a painter and a public speaker. I had few friends and remained extremely reclusive individual, even when my fantasy novels were on the best-seller lists.
Four years ago I first met my wife, Helen. She is the first person who has truly accepted me for all my faults, quirks and abnormalities. Since she came into my life I've been granted a new perspective. Until she came along I had no idea how lonely and alone I was. I didn't know that most people have families and friends to support them and celebrate their triumphs.
I began writing my autobiography ten years ago, but I have only been able to complete work on it since Helen came into my life. A Blessing and A Curse- Autism and Me is published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers in London and is available from amazon.com
I don't have any photos of myself as a child or a teenager. Father destroyed them all while I was overseas in my early twenties.
All content and images are copyright and may not be reproduced without permission
© Caiseal Mór 2011