Michael Moon is an autistic musician and photographer, and is also President of the Autism Acceptance Project. Check out his personal website The Temple of Sound.

MOON: My name is Michael Moon, I have ... I have autism. I was diagnosed when I was very young, which was rare at that time. I was pretty much able to live my life in a somewhat normal way due to having a lot of help through the school system and my Mum. And a lot of my difficulties that actually helped me to do what I’m really good at, which is music, photography, being able to see and feel the world in a slightly different way. And yeah, I ... all my obsessions go into the music. They can be ... it can be sometimes difficult because my ... it’s hard for me to really experience two senses at the same time, (unclear) two things at the same time so when I’m recording I often get very focused on one instrument and not hear the others. But then that can be very helpful to get that part very precise.

Q. YOU TALK ABOUT SEEING AND EXPERIENCING THE WORLD IN A DIFFERENT WAY. HOW DO YOU THINK YOU EXPERIENCE AND SEE THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY THAN A NON AUTISTIC PERSON?

MOON: Very hard to say specifically because we all ... it is different. We all experience the world slightly differently and that’s the magic of life. But there does seem to be a very ... you know people say to can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s almost like you can’t see the forest for the leaves. It’s very specific. It’s ... it can be very detailed and accurate but sometimes missing the big picture and that and because it’s hard to experience two things at the same time, it can be difficult in social interactions because there’s so much information, there’s so much going on that it can be overwhelming. Like for instance it’s very hard for me to look at somebody in the eyes while talking because as I’m trying to access all that feeling and all that ... there’s ... it can block me from the actual experience. So I often get this thing – look at me in the eyes. And then when I do, I can’t access what I’m trying to say anymore. And over time as I’ve matured, those things become more and more a background and have become more and more integrated so it’s less and less of a problem but still it can be an interesting experience where social interactions can be a little difficult. When there’s expectations to be quote\unquote "normal way" when really there actually isn’t a problem there’s just an understanding of that difference. But ...

Q. I’D LIKE TO ASK YOU A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT EXPERIENCING THE WORLD DIFFERENTLY: CAN YOU TALK TO ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT COLOURS, ABOUT LIGHT, ABOUT SOUND AND ABOUT SENSORY PERCEPTION: HOW THESE AFFECT YOU?

MOON: Yeah, it’s a good question. One interesting thing is when I’ve experimented a lot like I was trying to push myself to be able to experience two things at once, what I find is there’s a kind of flip flop so I’ll hear something, then I’ll see something and it’s a very quick flip flop. But when I really try and experience the two at the same time, things go very wonky and morphy, like the visuals get weird, the auditory gets strange. And for those moments where I experience the two, things get really ... psychedelic almost. And then ... and I’ve actually noticed where I’ll be looking at a tree and trying to hear the birds at the same time and then my mind will start focusing more on the birds and the tree literally starts disappearing. Like I don’t really see it almost anymore. So all this I mean it creates a very interesting experience that you kind of want to share, you know. There’s something interesting about it. It drives me to want to create. So with my photography a lot of photographers really look at my photographs and go – wow, that’s amazing and how do you do that? Or – how do you see that? And I don’t even think about it. That’s the way I see it. It’s not like I’m trying for a unique shot. My photographs are what I see. So I literally carry my camera around and I just go – click, click. Just sort of the ... because I actually ... I almost see life as through the camera ready because it’s already those little vignettes, my life’s experience are these little things and they’re so vivid and they’re so real and most people either don’t notice them or they notice them so peripherally that it’s nothing to them. So I feel those and they’re sort of ... and yet sometimes I miss the picture.

Q. DO YOU EVER HAVE THE OPPOSITE PROBLEM, THAT ... BECAUSE I HEAR FROM A LOT OF AUTISTIC PEOPLE THAT I’VE TALKED TO THAT SOMETIMES SOUND, LIGHT AND COLOURS CAN BE OVERWHELMING, THAT THEY COME AT THEM SO HARD THAT THEY BECOME VERY ANXIOUS. DO YOU HAVE THAT ISSUE?

MOON: Huge.

Q. CAN YOU TALK A BIT ABOUT IT?

MOON: Yeah, it’s very difficult. Right now I’ve just moved into a place and somebody below must have a ceiling fan or there’s something and there’s this 60 hertz hum that nobody else can hear but it’s so loud for me that I’m going crazy. I want to jump out the window. Like it’s so intense. And I don’t know how to express that and deal with it. And then my social interaction stuff – how do I approach them because they’re not going to understand and it’s like a complete panic. And I pace around my apartment freaking out, like I don’t now how to deal with it. And to somebody else it’s nothing. So there’s that side. And just all the ... our society is so loud, there’s so much happening all the time and we tend to not think about the auditory. Visuals usually more thought about in our culture which is probably why it’s not so much But even that, like flickering fluorescent lights and all that can be very difficult, you know just sounds I hear in the background now like these cars and things, like I find them very grating. It’s almost very similar to while you’re recording you’re all of a sudden hearing these and going, oh my ... that’s in the way. And it can be very difficult. In my own feeling nature it feels like that all the time, that super sensitivity to it. And in a way that’s where my music came from originally.