Touching has always been an issue for me. I don’t exactly know why. I want to explore touching in the context of autism. My older brother has a diagnosis of autism and profound retardation he is also nonverbal. His hands are delicate. He often holds them in a position, not unlike the way some people hold a drinking glass with a pinky finger extended. He has some repetitive movements that involve gently hitting his chest with the flat of his hand, as well as some not-so-gentle ways of touching himself. He slaps his head and bites his hand frequently. It is not clear whether he is ‘stimming‘, on the Tourette Syndrome (TS) spectrum, or both.
I think my father also had some kind of touching issue. It wasn’t noticeable except when he would stroke a pet. He didn’t use the palm of his hand fully, but rather cupped it somehow. I never mentioned this to him or anyone, but somehow this idiosyncrasy stuck in my mind.
Photography helped me
A number of years ago, I attended a workshop given by Eugene Richards, noted photojournalist and filmmaker. His class was not about f-stops, exposures or other mechanical considerations of photography. We read sections of Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman, and other poetry to give us an emotional outlook about self-expression. Gene had a reputation for pushing students to explore issues that were uncomfortable.
I have said in previous posts, that photographs can be misleading. They often are not truthful in depicting the entirety of a moment. Individual viewers can imbue truth upon any given photograph. The photographer can also learn from his or her own photographs. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I interpret my photograph below, taken at Gene Richards’s workshop, as a statement about my issue with touching.