How many ways are there to be in this world? Too many to count – more than there are colors in the big box of crayons, and maybe all of them are in their own way perfect. Today is autism awareness day. Autism impacts the families of one in every sixty-eight children born. For some reason, sons are more likely to be given a label for their constellation of behaviors that place them under the broad umbrella known as autism spectrum disorders. With numbers like that, we probably all know someone who is autistic. It means less as a word than it does as an individual.
Several years ago, I worked an expressive arts program through a contract with the Shuswap Association for community living. It was joyful, chaotic, some days peaceful, always something different from my day plan. Some of the non verbal adults enjoyed painting to music, everyone could participate in some way. Remembered in my list of favourite creations are superhero alter egos, garden stones, splatter paintings, and so many hugs and smiles. I have worked art programs in communities healing through social challenge, re-entry into mainstream, addiction / sobriety programs, late life continuing education, or just that place outside the box designed for the cookie cutter kid (of any age). All of these places taught me, labels matter for an attempt at understanding, for acquiring funding, but, nothing replaces the face to face reality of the individual. How is that different from you or I? It isn’t, that’s the point.
Different packages contain different gifts, an example being, Stephen Wiltshire whose amazing memory and artistic skill creates cities from memory with near perfection, his work and story can be viewed if you follow this search. Stephen Wiltshire Drawings – Image Results as well check out the artist page. http://the-art-of-autism.com/ for a series of works by a number of artists in the spectrum.
And one from my great-nephew Riley, who tells great stories in pictures!
Today, my paint box is focused on blue, which has always been my favorite color and the one selected for autism awareness day. The fact is we all work a little differently, but, we all work. How much more interesting is a world where everything is not exactly the same. That is what I want to share about my sense of awareness. That and there is room for everyone to be loved and appreciated, to shine their own light and for each of us who open ourselves to possibility to be warmer from the glow of a varied collective.