Guest Blog

A Look into Naoki's World

05 Jul 2017 by Charlotte Hajduga

The first picture is the whole complete picture, A look into Naoki's World. At first it may look crazy and chaotic like some elements may not fit or belong, but once your eye moves through this drawing you see each little element helps to tell a story. From first glance my not be understood, much like an outsider's view of understanding the complexities of autism. Naoki shows us that he is a complex, intelligent, individual, capable of deep thought, empathy, imagination and spirituality inside of his inner world. He gives us a gift of understanding his insight through his usage of metaphor and deep understanding of his own feelings and how he relates to the spirituality of his own Japanese culture as well as the universe as a whole being.

The second picture Robot, is the focal point of the drawing. It really resonated with me how Naoki used the metaphor that he felt like a remote control robot, only the controller was broken or malfunctioning. He used this to describe how he had no control over his body and the things it does. When anyone asks him to move a certain way or stay still he can not comply with what they are asking. This is not an intentional defiance of behavior or a lack of understanding on his part, just the sheer inability to do what is expected even when he wills at it with all of his might. The powerful feeling of being helpless to be understood. The robot is looking out the window, inside it feels helpless and longs to be free outside where it can move without restraint or judgement or expectation from others. This is describing as well how we are outside looking in at autism, those with autism are inside looking out trying to find their voice to connect o us. As Amythest said in her video "there is a person inside there" The voice of self advocacy is there, they will find it in their own time be patient and do not talk about them as if they are not aware or not human.

Chaos and Evolution. Naoki describes the power of nature forces beyond our control, a tidal wave can create total chaos and devastate lives. This represents behaviors that are unpredictable like force of nature beyond control. Sometimes certain behaviors can be sort of the same way where loss of control can be completely unintentional and unavoidable and come from a place where you feel only a higher power of being has sent this here for some unknown reason. Also the water istelf the sheer beauty of movement and flow can be amazing and dangerous at the same time and people with autism are drawn to this wonder of nature to explore and understand it more themselves, but put themselves at great risk by underestimating the power of what lies beneath the surface sometimes us non-autistic can also underestimate what lies beneath the surface of autism. Please watch over us is mentioned many times throughout Naoki's interview. Naoki also has a great spirituality within his beliefs and culture. He relates to the draw to the water to the belief that humans have evolved from the oceans and seas to take on human form and walk along the earth. That need and desire to fit in and be accepted for who he is is present by wanting to return to the sea and take on a fish like persona so e can fit in with those like him.

Home- our safe haven where we feel loved and warmth from those around us. The ever present eye of the universe, god or higher power looking over us, keeping us safe.

How we fit into the universe. In Naoki's story of being hit by a car, we get the feeling that this near death experience gave him insight into how he would like to be remembered if he died. That he would sacrifice his own life then to cause death or despair to his mother and father. His legacy is not to be remembered as someone who needed to be fixed or who only caused sadness. He would like to be remembered as something beautiful. His favorite trees the cherry blossoms the scent and softness of the petals. the bright visual display of color if others were to look back on his life he would like you to remember how euphoric he could feel in their presence and how these trees only bring happiness and feelings of joy. When they are not in bloom you can look back and miss the feeling they created while you were in their presence.

A mother's Despair from his near death dream how it hurt so much to look back and see is mother sad full of grief and despair. He would never want his parents to feel this way. This not only shows us that he loves his parents and does not want to be a burden but also that those with autism feel this way too. The need and the desire to only cause joy and love in the hearts of others no matter how challenging their situation may be.

Watch out for us, as well as the Japanese sun and the eye in the sky Naoki warns us to watch out for us, again and again. The tiny figures in the drawing Naoki reaching into the water and his mother and father trying their hardest not to let go.. to keep him safe. Is a reminder to all of us how important it is for the non autistic to support the autistic, to look out for their true needs and not personal gain but keep them from being exploited by others (drug companies, those who seek cures, behavior treatments and modifications that will cause harm to them, those who wish to rob them of their strengths and abilities or keep them isolated) Once an autistic person falls into the depths of these unpredictable forces they can become gone and lost forever. Though there may be beauty on the surface of the water, we do ot know what is lurking beneath that surface and will it cause them harm or destroy them. We must keep them safe and represent them.

Zen, this is an up close look of how Naoki sees himself in nature. He is able to be free and be himself, without judgement or expectations. He can flap and jump and do what makes him feel happy and free. The 2 birds represent the Crow and the Dove in Naoki's story. The dove is loved by all and the crow is seen as a nuisance to others. Yet when they are free to fly at their own free will they are beautiful and majestic. In Naoki's story the serve as another metaphor for how some may see autism, the crow who may be judged and misunderstood can be something beautiful if we let it be what it is meant to be and give it some freedom.

My name is Charlotte Hajduga. I am currently a Graduate Student as Lesley University. I am working on my Master's Degree in Autism Education. I have completed the first portion on my degree with a four part certificate course in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Allies and Advocates. Through the journey of my education, I have learned that the Individuals with Autism and the Autistic Community are the real advocates and experts of everything about Autism. 
I have learned that "presumed competence" and listening to the stories of self advocates is the best resource to learn anything about autism. Viewing autism through the 'lens' of an autistic person is the best way to gain understanding of how best to support and meet the needs of individuals with autism. I am hoping that through my education I can help to support the Autistic Community with research and resources to help accommodate needs, promote 'full' inclusion education and overall better quality of life outcomes. Diversity is a beautiful thing, I embrace celebrating differences and individual strengths and gifts each person has to offer.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be welcomed into your community, Thank You very much!