I just returned from Uluru after a 6 day trip, our first to Central Australia. I can now see why the iconic monolith has such drawing power. It came into view when we first drove to the National Park and the sight of it, standing under the sunset sky, red sky, red earth, with the Rock in different hues of red, filled me with awe. The photos in Qantas ads don’t do it justice. At close quarters, seeing every fold and crevice bathed in the dwindling light, feelings of wonder arose, akin to some spiritual connectedness only matched by the fulfilment of me being able to finally communicate, establishing this vital connection to people.
During our stay, we went on several guided tours/talks including the culture of the Anangu people, the custodians of Uluru, regional bush tucker and the ecology and geology of the Rock. Our guides were experienced elders of the local culture and shared with us timeless stories and fascinating facts. Listening to them, I am once again reminded of how much I’ve learned from stories. From an early age, people assumed that I didn’t have the ability to understand, feel, think or communicate because I can’t talk. But luckily, through special methods that catered to my unique learning style, I was able to acquire language and understand the world and people around me. Through the many stories Mum and others mimed, sang, drew and used puppets to play out the scenes, I began to develop my understanding of people and the social world. From the story lines and characters, I had a clear sense that we are all connected because we have things in common, thoughts, feelings, concerns and interests. This gave me the prerequisite skills and incentive to find a means to communicate and to talk to people. I love stories, and I have found that sharing stories helps enormously to connect with people. Using the stories told to me, I began to make up my own stories and in my last years of high school, started to write up my journey in living with autism. The culmination of my efforts, a manuscript entitled “Back from the Brink” is now ready for publication. It is my fervent hope that this story will be shared with others, individuals, families, support networks, professionals, to shed some light on our collective experiences and to support each other in our endeavours.