Imagine a young man; 5ft10, 25 years old, a university graduate working at a local school. He is polite, friendly but a little withdrawn. Nothing about his demeanour would suggest anything beyond a rather pleasant, perhaps shy, character. He relates wonderfully to his students. He goes grocery shopping for his mother and enjoys gardening.
Now imagine a young boy progressing through primary and secondary school. Braces, glasses, acne. An amazing mind for science, an affinity for animals and a tendency to be picked on by the more brutish school bullies. He has loyal, protective friends and family, but no amount of support can let him completely relax in the company of others. He is frustrated, awkward and crippled with anxiety. He is compelled to repeat monotonous actions. There is blackness beyond his direct line of sight. He hears voices.
This man, was once this boy. This man has Aspergers Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). At the age of 16 he had brain surgery for a medical condition known as Hydrocephalus which was effecting his sight and threatening his life. This individual has overcome more challenges in his 25 years than anyone would even begin worrying about. This is an amazing man. But few realise it.
People with social disorders often go undiagnosed and suffer, or are diagnosed and limited by the stigma that surrounds their condition or a lack of understanding about it. The forthcoming multimedia story will attempt to reveal the reality for people with these conditions, both before and after they are diagnosed, by delving into the life of a man who wasn’t properly treated until his teen years, but has achieved both personal and academic success as a young adult despite the supposed drawbacks of his conditions.
The man and his extremely hard-working, supportive mother will be providing the insights that will make up this true narrative. Hopefully, both separate and joint interviews from the pair will produce a compelling, and very personal idea about their family’s experience with social disorders. Interviews from colleagues of the man or other family friends might be used to compliment the main interviews.
The main slideshow of images will be my original photos, and will depict the man in his current daily life of work, study and family. Some close up portraits with a calamitous background will attempt to play more on the theme of what’s hidden in social disorders. I ambitiously plan to accompany this with a sort of ‘family album’ which will have images of the man and his family from the last few decades.
The atmospheric sound that will enhance this project will be a mixture of conceptual and practical sounds. The former will relate to the stressful and claustrophobic feelings that often plagues those with Aspergers and OCD. The later will be more conventional sounds that will accompany the photos presenting the everyday life of the salient. The only video component that I envisage would be snippets of home-videos recorded by the family over the years. I plan to include these in the ‘family album’ section.
This story will attempt to enlighten the unenlightened on matters of social struggle. It will not shy away from the social awkwardness of social disorders. It will be revealing, and perhaps uncomfortable. Most importantly, it will be honest and reveal what’s hidden.
Well here’s hoping…