I believe many people have a misguided understanding of an autistic spectrum. The common misconception is to see it as a linear spectrum. From low functioning severely disabled Rain Man to high functioning annoying Sheldon Cooper.

 

That outlook is not correct because, for one, it ignores female representation, and then it perceives autism in through black and white lens which is not very helpful and autistic people often struggle due to this perception. They are either being undervalued because the neurotypical (NT) community sees only impairments, not the strengths. Alternatively,  NTs can see basic functioning and don't believe the daily struggles of someone with autism.  

 

Other people also sought to visually explain the spectrum with umbrellas, graphic diagrams, rainbows or color wheel. For me, it is a good beginning, but it's not quite there yet. It seems like it marginalizes autistic individual as part of the wider group, within which one can be generalized.

It does not look at the uniqueness of the individual. It could suggest, that if John knows one autistic person, John knows everything about autism. But no, John knows only one person with autism. One variation.

 

My work has several layers of meanings trying to utilize medium, color, shapes, shades, reference to popular culture  as a language where I like to concentrate on the individuality within the spectrum:

 

  • By using only black and white color, I'm utilizing current NT black and white perception of autism.

 

  • Various autistic traits and characteristics are represented by various shades, shapes, sizes,  position within the design, every time creating a unique juxtaposition= unique person. Autistic people are not puzzle pieces to be just a small part in the bigger picture. They are the pictures themselves, with their own skill set and intensity of various autistic traits.

 

  • In this black darkness of unknown about autism, people need to get to the white light object- to the individual to get to know her/him. It is not about getting to know what autism is ( although that's obvious that people start there), is about getting to know the individual, however hard it might seem. Don't touch, be quiet, observe, think and learn with patience, without judgment.

 

  • Due to different values and perspective, many autistic people feel like aliens, like they do not belong and they hope that the NT world will make more effort to try to understand the complexity of autism. In sense of symbolism, some of my designs might remind you of crop circle designs. In popular culture, not all crop circles are considered as hoaxes and they are thought to be mysterious messages from aliens trying to communicate. We are 2 different species with a different understanding, a different way of communication and abilities, where we don't know how to communicate with each other. Maybe there is hope from aliens that earthlings will crack the "code" if aliens use the basic shapes with universal logic and language of the universe - math/geometry.

 

  • Another point I want to make in regards to those other visual representations of ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder)  is that they have clear borders suggesting there are many but limited variations of an outcome. I don't think about autism as a spectrum, I think about it as the continuum (since before I've read Neurotribes where someone suggested that) therefore I will continue to create these designs until ... I don't know - until I cannot do it anymore?

 

  • Name ASD says it plain- it's a disorder ...which needs to be fixed. I'm not sure about that. I don't think we need to change autistic people. We need to find ways how to communicate. We need to change the outlook of NT community. We could start with changing ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder to ADC  Autistic Diversity Continuum. I would suggest asking autistic people whether they see it as a disorder or a diversity. Diversity in input, processing, and output. A diversity of seeing the world differently, having diverse abilities. The problem autistic people have is functioning and flawlessly navigating in self-indulging NT social jungle. In the world full of unwritten rules, senseless rules, white lies, where people say what they don't mean, in the world which is possibly? rightly? inferior? to their own? There is no cure. Only mutual understanding. Or maybe the understanding is the cure?

 

  • The names for the pictures represent real people with autism or Asperger's who used their strengths to make it work or those who shared their stories and experiences in books, blogs, videos, articles I came across. If you have a story to share or to give me more food for thought and inspiration, get in touch.

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