To celebrate the month of April and raise awareness about the diversity among individuals on the autism spectrum, I decided to create a group of unique creatures who embody a few of the different strengths and challenges of people with ASD. All of us are different and experience life in our own unique way, so these friendly critters represent that.
Let me introduce you to a figure from the folklore of Japan called the Futakuchi-onna. Her name means “two-mouthed woman,” and she comes from a country facing a crisis of self-care. In fact, at the end of last year, the youth suicide rate in Japan had reached its highest in thirty years. The stress of a work-centric culture along with a strong stigma against reaching out for mental health care are thought to be major factors for the suicide rates in Japan, and are things many of us can relate to on some level. Perhaps then, it is somehow appropriate that we can learn about the dangers and effects of neglecting ourselves through the story of the Futakuchi-onna.
It often seemed like people around me didn’t have so much trouble learning what direction to grow in. They just knew how to become a human being. They knew when to say hello and goodbye, how to jump rope, ride bikes, what to talk about, and what to wear.