I think about the connection between art and autism a lot. About how outside the box, committed to their singular vision both the artist and the autist, each in their own way, are.
I've been doing this for a while (see my best known post "From Autist to Artist") but it's been circling round my brain a lot these days, as Jacob's artwork has really taken off lately. Into the stratosphere.
If you've been following my facebook or Twitter streams you may have seen some of these:
|"Goku" (From Dragonball Z-Kai)|
What I am most struck with is the emotion in the faces he draws, even more then the details of certain parts like the ears (the ears!), or the way his noses look like noses; the way he captures a mouth with one line - and it so completely is a mouth.
This flies in the face of so much common "wisdom" about autistic people paying no attention to faces, or not being able to read facial expressions for emotion.
When I mentioned this along with a photo of Jake's art I posted on Facebook, a cyber-friend, who is herself on the spectrum, responded with this really interesting reflection:
What this has to do with his autism, if it's mere coincidence or if the way he perceives the world through its filters open up the artist space in him, all this is unknown and probably unknowable. And ultimately besides the point.
I don't have any answers here. This is just me ruminating out loud, in public (blogs are so lovely for that). And also, truth be told, showing off, sharing some of my son's wonderfulness with the world.
Because Jake deserves to be celebrated.
I do know this: Jake's drawings are alive, in the way that mere renderings are not. They are art, and he IS an artist.
Jake is who he is.
A package deal.
An artist and an autist.
But mostly, he's just Jake.
I haven't been writing that much about autism here lately, as much as it suffuses our lives, and bits of it weave through almost every thing I do. The other bits of life have been more dominant.
But that's about to change. Tomorrow is April 1st, the beginning of Autism Awareness month, and Monday, April 2nd is International Autism Awareness Day. And just in time for all of this, the CDC has released new figures for Autism rates that are making big news.
I'm sure you know the new numbers, but if you've been sitting in a cave and haven't heard:
1 in 88.
(And for boys it's 1 in 54.)
And these are figures for 2008.
Four years ago.
(A limited 2011 study? 1 in 38. No I'm not kidding.)
So I'm going to be talking about Autism a lot this month, and you should too. Because it's not going away, and even if you don't have an autistic kid (or nephew or cousin) you are and will be affected by this.
And the autistic kids of today are going to be the autistic adults of tomorrow, contributing to and (re-)shaping our world. And figuring out how best to support them, how to establish a future world that nurtures and meets the needs of us all, really needs to be on all of our minds.
It sure is constantly on mine.
To be continued people... to be continued...