Autism Resources and Accommodations
I was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in 2022, and although there has been a lot of good stuff coming out about ASD, it seems that there is still quite a bit of confusion around it as a diagnosis. I am by no means an expert - I can only speak on my own experience - but in case it might be useful I thought I'd write a little bit here about it and how it relates to my art and practice.
ASD is still pretty under-diagnosed in women and girls, this is because stereotypes of autistic behaviours are mostly based on research that was done back in the day on boys (you know the thing about little boys who love trains etc). Girls are less likely to be diagnosed because we are socialised differently, and our 'special interests' might tend to be more socially acceptable or standard (think boybands or fashion or whatever, one of mine was the Lion King and I had a big thing for treefrogs for a while).
There are some really great books available to learn more about autism in girls and women - my favourites are Women and Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder by Dr Sarah Hendrickx, and Fern Brady's memoir Strong Female Character. It's always best to read books written by actual autistic people - I've read a lot around the subject and the ones written by non-autistics generally get quite a lot wrong (the thing about us having no empathy or tact is utter balls and it pisses me off whenever I see it repeated). Pete Wharmby's Untypical is also really good!
My autism has affected me and my career path in so many ways. I've worked from home as a self employed artist for almost 9 years, and it is a lifestyle that couldn't suit me better. My main special interest is polar exploration and polar environments, and I think a lot of the reason is down to a) I'm interested in people - lots of interesting people go on polar expeditions and they do interesting things, and b) polar environments are very low-stimulus: I don't have to worry about overheating if it's -15 degrees, the landscape is almost monochromatic, everything is covered in snow so there's very little visual noise. There's also not much noise in general, and the air is very fresh (no nasty smells). Basically it's the kind of environment that makes my brain really happy.
If you think you might have a touch of the 'tism yourself, I recommend heading over to embrace-autism.com where you can take some fun tests! There's a short one called the Autism Quotient (AQ) and a longer one called the RAADS-R.
I only just realised that I get to ask for accommodations even though I'm self employed! There aren't many but it would be very nice if you could keep them in mind.
I love commissions! Please do commission me to make something for you. Things that make it easier for me are having a deadline and also a clear idea of what you want. Je regret I am not a mind reader! Sometimes it's nice to have a bit of free reign but it does mean that the work takes a lot longer.
One thing that never fails to cause huge amounts of anxiety is meetings. I understand that Zoom and Teams are very convenient, but unfortunately my broadband here is awful (Edinburgh council don't want to dig up the pavement to improve it, sometimes it stops working if it's windy) and I'd rather not put myself through the stress these meetings cause. The same goes for telephone calls, I absolutely hate them, as do a lot of autistic people. So please, as much as I REALLY REALLY appreciate being asked to be involved in different projects, if there's any way you could keep it to an email that would be fantastic. It also gives me something to refer back to afterwards (verbal instructions are not my forte).
I'm very fortunate in that for the most part I find that my autism is a benefit - I get SO excited about polar things and I love passing that passion on to other people. The only time problems can arise is when I get stressed out and my brain stops working (oh no). When this happens (autistic people are a lot closer to the stress threshold that non autistic people at all times) I literally HAVE to take time off, I hate it. So anything I can do to lower stress is really important. I think that's it! Thank you for reading this :D