April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day, and I’m sharing my Peaceful Sea Turtle in recognition of both Autism (ASD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). Some people with autism don’t like what the “puzzle” pieces signify in the autism awareness logos and materials, understandably, since those with ASD and/or SPD are not missing pieces that would make them whole, not at all. So, in an effort to respect this view, I am in the process of creating an illustrated children’s book with an alternative way of picturing neurodiversity, using the imagery of the senses, with illustrations that capture colours, patterns and texture. Just as every person is different, so is everyone with ASD or SPD.
The characters in my book are sea turtles, with one main turtle who swims apart from the others and follows her heart. Some of the illustrations (below) have been completed for some time now. Can you see the similarities and differences amongst them, the variety in their genetic makeup and the multipotentiality of talents that make each individual unique and full of purpose?!
I am currently writing the words of the story, and the other illustrations and art are still coming together in my visual mind. When it is complete, I will announce it on my website and blog.
April is Autism Awareness Month in the USA. Each year, in October, Canada recognizes Autism awareness and Sensory Processing Disorder awareness. Please continue to share the awareness literature and logos of various organizations around the world, as it all helps! These days, everyone knows someone with ASD, but they might not know anything more than a set of symptoms for classic autism, which can leave a person with a very limited, in-the-box, stereotypical view of autism. That was how I viewed autism (when I first heard of it), before I went to teacher’s college, took additional courses in special education, and continued to educate myself for the sake of people I know with ASD and SPD. In addition, I used to wonder why I experienced so many sensory issues, but I now know for certain that I have SPD myself. It accounts for many of the health issues that seriously affect my quality of life. So, yes, I know much from first-hand experience.
There are many severe challenges for people with ASD (many are listed under SPD). These challenges can be a combination of social, emotional, mental and/or physical. They can affect/hinder communication (spoken, written), even attempts at expressing feelings or describing physical symptoms; organization (of thoughts, schedules, etc.); perception of sensory input, whether hyper- or hypo-sensitive; etc. etc. It was recently announced that 1 in 66 children in Canada between the ages of 5 to 17 are diagnosed with Autism. The figures for reported diagnoses in females is rising, due to awareness of how Autism manifests differently in females. Most of the research has been done on males to come up with the criteria for ASD diagnosis, so females have a difficult time getting an accurate diagnosis.
Neurodiversity needs to be accepted and supported. The world needs different thinkers and doers! In fact, the world would not have so many advances in science, technology, engineering, maths, and the arts (visual arts, music, theatre, etc.), if it weren’t for so many neurodiverse thinkers throughout history.