While author John Smyth is getting ready to release his first published full-length book, From Autism’s Tomb: 10 Things that Transform Everything, it is not the first thing he has written. Throughout the last 4 1/2 years, John has written a variety of insightful and thought-provoking essays, reviews, articles and poems, mostly as part of his school assignments.
“Poetry: A Story So Good It Doesn’t Need Complete Sentences”You have not really read poetry until you’ve read “Authentic” John Smyth’s book of poetry, both some of the classics that have inspired him, as well as some of his original work. One example of John’s poetry is called “Autism’s Power,” about which he states:
“In “Autism’s Power” I have a conversation with autism and myself. Knowing impatience from the inside of autism for most of my life, sad suffering ascending to swearing from my lonely perch, like a bird in the forest no one hears, is part of my life.
Easy surrender alternates with cursing. We are lost and found at the same time as hell and heaven play with our heads. The way of service is to commit to be there for others. I used metaphor and personification with autism as vise and demon, and personification with Excellence.”
Autism’s power is a vise
that chokes freedom from the self-conscious soul
waiting for rest that never comes.
in wasted fights of energy
given for sport.
All can watch without knowing
parading as moments of normality.
Where is thy king, o seer of my body,
so that I may slay him
and take back my life.
I grow weary once again,
oh demon of hell’s furnace.
Would I were saintly sanctified
by some easier path.
So get comfortable and settle in for some really great poems that will reaffirm your love of poetry and change your thinking about autism and the individuals afflicted with it.
Download: "Poetry: A Story So Good It Doesn’t Need Complete Sentences" by John Smyth
(PDF opens in new window)
An Amazing Autism StoryOne of John’s assignments in 2013 was a piece he wrote called “An Amazing Autism Story,” which he expanded on and published as a booklet for Saved By Typing, the support group he and his typer friends in the Indianapolis area began in August, 2013. In it, John described what his life was like locked into a body he couldn’t control and unable to communicate with his family or the outside world, and how it has changed since he discovered his voice through the process of Supported Typing (aka Facilitated Communication.)
“Hi. My name is John Smyth. I am 19 ½ years old and have autism. My autism is so severe that I often cannot talk. My mind tells me what to say, but my lips will say nothing or make sounds I do not intend. So I type with one finger to talk, with some support from my dad, aide at school, brother, or others in my life…
For 16 ½ years, I had no way to communicate with my family, doctors, teachers or others. As I will explain, I believe the way was always there, but no one was educated or cared to try it. What is amazing about my story is not that I can now communicate with you and answer your questions afterward, but that I am the first person among all the dozens and possibly hundreds of nonverbal autistic persons ever to be in The Rich School District who can now do this. And I can do it because I go to The Caring High School. I’ll share that story with you.”
Visit the Saved By Typing website to read more of John Smyth’s story and to download An Amazing Autism Story.
From Autism’s Tomb: 10 Things that Transform EverythingIn his first full-length book, John Smyth, an autistic nonverbal reveals life secrets from the “profound Silence that holds us all.” These secrets shape every person’s reality and potential. Yet most of humanity is unaware of them because of the depths of isolation required for discovery.
John was regarded as mentally incompetent and without potential for contribution to society less than 5 years ago. Yet he taught himself to read at age 3, perceived all of life around him with extraordinary sensory acuity, and, after 16 ½ years of isolation, entered the world of communication. In this book, John shares how embracing these discoveries has enabled him to grow from the depths of despair and resignation to a life of gratitude and accomplishment.
In John’s own words, From Autism’s Tomb is…
“…a book of experiences and insights. It shoots me from the time of my losing myself to the time that I realize that the silence is my friend. It shares the journey, the speeches, the insights, and the work to give back… especially to Kriss, Mr. Smith, Mrs. Naviaux, principal leaders, and fellow students who were there for me. Leading facts must be accurate. Like that idea of referring to them and looking at them as evidence of my state and growth. This will be important.”
“… a far cry from the book I would have written a year ago. Easier message to read. Teaching from the silence has more authority. Took awhile to get there. I am not really the same person. And I can speak to the progress the reader can make. Powerful hearts will see that a sick person was writing before with distress from the isolation and damage to self esteem. No longer now. Just a healing person striving to serve all who are where I lost myself.”
John has at least three other books he is currently working on and plans to publish in the near future: Every Child Can be Saved, The 7 Houses of Our Being, and The Way of the Nonverbal.