#AutismAcceptance/#AutismAppreciation doodles ‘n’ scribbles, no. 30: April is nearly over, and I need to take a break (for a short while, at least).

Part of a lilac-painted living room with deep purple floor and white skirting boards. Mama Pineapple, a white femme-presenting person with red hair, wearing purple socks, blue leggings and a red, floral patterned tunic top, reclines on a brown leather sofa, one hand held over her forehead partially obscuring her face in a gesture of weariness. There are patterned cushions around her. Her other hand dangles down towards a white mug full of steaming coffee on the floor just in front of the sofa.A thought bubble above her reads “THANK F**K THAT’S OVER!”.

[Trigger warning: mention of suicide, murder, child abuse, sexism, cissexism, heterosexism, racism, gaslighting, social media abuse, “cure” therapies, ABA, ableism, neglect, mental illness.]


We’ve reached the end of April. The end of Autism “Awareness” Month. The end of Autism Acceptance Month.

And it’s been a hard one. I’ve kept my interaction with social media somewhat limited, but have still managed to encounter much that has upset me.

The thing is, “awareness” doesn’t stop after April.

All year round, every single day:

  • Somebody, somewhere, is working on a “cure” for something that isn’t even a disease or a problem.
  • An autistic adult is being told that their views are not valid because they’re “not autistic enough”, or “not like my child”.
  • Elsewhere, a non-verbal autistic person’s needs and views are being ignored because those around them presume them incapable of intelligent thought.
  • An autistic child is getting the feeling that they’re “broken” and not the child their parents wanted.
  • An autistic child is receiving stressful, traumatic conversion therapy to make them “normal” and remove their autistic “symptoms”.
  • An autistic child is becoming seriously ill through being forced to drink bleach or overdose on vitamin C to purge them of “toxins”.
  • Someone is talking, in all seriousness, about “vaccine damage”, and about autism being an “adverse effect” of vaccines.
  • A parent or caregiver is contemplating murder.
  • Somebody, somewhere is telling an autistic woman that they have no business calling themselves autistic because they, and others like them, have caused the diagnosis to be “dumbed down”.
  • Female autistics, autistics of colour, and queer, trans and/or non-binary autistics are being told to “stop making it all about them” as everybody needs support.
  • Somewhere, a media outlet is mocking autistic people and enforcing dangerous stereotypes.
  • A harmful meme is being spread on social media, and autistics are being told to “lighten up” and “get over it” as it’s just a harmless joke.
  • A healthcare professional is delivering an autism diagnosis to the parents of a child, and warning them of all the things that child will never do and explaining all the ways in which they are broken.
  • An advertising campaign is doing exactly the same in a series of commercials, flyers, and posters.
  • An “autism warrior mom” is lamenting her plight and desperately wishing that her child wasn’t such a burden.
  • Another parent is battling educators, healthcare providers, insurers and local authorities to get the support their child so desperately needs, but that is so difficult to come by.
  • An autistic teenager is contemplating suicide because they can’t stand the bullying any longer.
  • An autistic adult is staring at another job application form, wondering whether to disclose or not, how they’ll manage an interview and wondering whether this time they might finally get lucky after so much rejection.
  • Another autistic adult is trying to fend off the overwhelm and overload of working in an environment that’s uncomfortable, painful and overly-demanding of their senses and cognitive function.
  • Yet another is wondering how on Earth they’re going to get the financial support they need to enable them to live.
  • An ill-advised person in a position of power and influence is bemoaning the “autism epidemic” and wondering how on Earth it can be stopped; how autism can be put to an end.

And so much more. All over the world. Every day.

The scourge of “Awareness” never stops.

And so the work to promote Autism Acceptance must never stop. There is so much work to do.

Meanwhile, autistic people are living, loving, laughing, thinking, creating, caring, acting, performing, helping, supporting, advising, campaigning, sharing, uplifting, amplifying, celebrating, commiserating, learning, working, teaching, making, saving, rescuing, mentoring, encouraging, inventing, designing, innovating, suffering, shouting, crying.

Speaking.

And all the other things that humans do.

We’re here. It’s time to accept us, and appreciate us as a part of the world we, and you, all live in together.

Thank fuck April’s nearly over.

But the struggle never stops.

***

As for me, I’m going to have a bit of time off. My emotions, and my hyper empathy, have been, well, hyper, this month. I’ve been up, I’ve been down. And I’m pleased I’ve managed to post an entire month’s worth of images, every day, to do my bit to promote Autism Acceptance and Appreciation. But it’s cost me, as has seeing all I’ve seen (and I haven’t seen the half of it, believe me).

So next month, I’m not going to be around much. I might post the odd thing; but I might not. I’ll see how I feel.

May will be a month of self-care. God knows I need it. And my family need me. My loving husband and my beautiful children will be my focus this coming month. Plus work, and a couple of long-overdue projects that really need my attention.

I’m going to have a rest from blogging, just for a short while.

Ta-ra for now, chums!


[Image description: Part of a lilac-painted living room with deep purple floor and white skirting boards. Mama Pineapple, a white femme-presenting person with red hair, wearing purple socks, blue leggings and a red, floral patterned tunic top, reclines on a brown leather sofa, one hand held over her forehead partially obscuring her face in a gesture of weariness. There are patterned cushions around her. Her other hand dangles down towards a white mug full of steaming coffee on the floor just in front of the sofa.A thought bubble above her reads “THANK F**K THAT’S OVER!”.

I’m very sweary, and would normally quite happily not star out the swear words, but I’m hoping doing in the featured image so might help the circulation of this a bit.]

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#AutismAcceptance/#AutismAppreciation doodles ‘n’ scribbles, no. 27: “Stim” stim-doodle/doodle-stim

A portrait-orientation doodle, in coloured pen, featuring the word “stim” in ALL CAPS repeated five times, in varying fonts, colours and styles. The words are decorated with, and surrounded by, many line-drawn shapes and patterns.

Doodling is a stim, and here is a doodle about stimming. A stim-themed doodle-stim/stim-doodle.

How very meta.


[Image: A portrait-orientation doodle, in coloured pen, featuring the word “stim” in ALL CAPS repeated five times, in varying fonts, colours and styles. The words are decorated with, and surrounded by, many line-drawn shapes and patterns.]

#AutismAcceptance/#AutismAppreciation doodles ‘n’ scribbles, no. 25: Weird Sisters

A full-colour fineliner pen drawing of three green-skinned witches, around a large, ornate and rustic cauldron placed on a bonfire. One witch stirs a potion in the cauldron; another holds a spell book and is about to drop a frog into the mixture. The witch in the middle holds her hands up as if casting a spell. Numerous creatures are running away from the scene, and a cat hides behind the spell-book witch. A broomstick is just in view to the left of the image, and in the background are hills, woodland, bats and a full moon.

A full-colour fineliner pen drawing of three green-skinned witches, around a large, ornate and rustic cauldron placed on a bonfire. One witch stirs a potion in the cauldron; another holds a spell book and is about to drop a frog into the mixture. The witch in the middle holds her hands up as if casting a spell. Numerous creatures are running away from the scene, and a cat hides behind the spell-book witch. A broomstick is just in view to the left of the image, and in the background are hills, woodland, bats and a full moon.

Another one from my little Moleskine book. Yet more horror/spooky connections, plus a nod to the literary.

Fineliner drawing of an ornate, rather rustic cauldron, placed on a bonfire. This is part of the witches drawing. It’s drawn on the page of a small plain-paged Moleskine journal.I refer to a lot of these fineliner pen drawings as “doodles” because other than having a vague idea on my head about what I’m going to draw, I don’t really plan them, or sketch anything out beforehand. And I usually begin by drawing one area of the picture in detail, and “completing” this, before I move to the next. This started with a cauldron, and progressed from there.

I much prefer working in detail over a period of time to dashing things off quickly, but as per a couple of recent digital paintings and some of the more cartoon-based work, I’m having a go at doing things quickly as a way of honing certain skills. Painting and drawing quickly is still somewhat outside of my comfort zone.

Early stages of a full-colour fineliner drawing of witches around a cauldron. The cauldron on the bonfire is complete, and there are two partially-completed witches either side of the picture. The faulty foreshortenening/positioning of left arm of the witch holding the frog annoys me intensely. But never mind.

[Main image description: A full-colour fineliner pen drawing of three green-skinned witches, around a large, ornate and rustic cauldron placed on a bonfire. One witch stirs a potion in the cauldron; another holds a spell book and is about to drop a frog into the mixture. The witch in the middle holds her hands up as if casting a spell. Numerous creatures are running away from the scene, and a cat hides behind the spell-book witch. A broomstick is just in view to the left of the image, and in the background are hills, woodland, bats and a full moon.

Second and third images depict the same picture in earlier stages of development – firstly the cauldron, then with the addition of two of the witches.]

#AutismAcceptance/#AutismAppreciation doodles ‘n’ scribbles, no 24: another 20-minute mindful paint in the park

A full colour, landscape orientation digital painting of a wooded area of an urban park in springtime. The sky is blue, and there is a red-brick building in the background, and a path to the right of the picture. The painting style is rudimentary and impressionistic. The composition is not ideal, with rather too much grass in the foreground.

I stopped for 20 minutes painted this on the iPad on the way home from work last Thursday. It’s a good exercise in discipline to try and do art work within a tight timeframe — I prefer obsessing over detail, but I think it’s helpful to hone my skills of observation and composition, in particular, by dashing some stuff off very quickly. I also feel somewhat as if I’m laying myself bare by posting something so “imperfect”, but that doing so helps me agonise less over others’ perceptions of me.

Detail is beautiful, but for my own self-care I’m occasionally trying to let it go, as a way of addressing some aspects of my anxiety.

I still have so much to learn.


[Image description: A full colour, landscape orientation digital painting of a wooded area of an urban park in springtime. The sky is blue, and there is a red-brick building in the background, and a path to the right of the picture. The painting style is rudimentary and impressionistic. The composition is not ideal, with rather too much grass in the foreground.]

#AutismAcceptance/#AutismAppreciation doodles ‘n’ scribbles, no. 23: bonfire

A stylised full-colour drawing of a bonfire, drawn in fineliner and felt-tip pens, with many swirling flames against a midnight blue background.

This is another image doodled in pen in one of my little Moleskine journals back in the autumn (fall) of 2017. But regardless of it not being bonfire season at the moment, there really is something about fire and flames that makes this worth sharing now.

I don’t light fires for fun.

But I find the intricate shapes and patterns caused by rising flames to be mesmerising and soothing. During the autumns and winters of my childhood, I remember so often sitting in front of the open fire, losing myself in its warmth, the gentle crackle, and the captivating, fluid orange glow. A powerful stim if ever there was one.


[Image: A stylised full-colour drawing of a bonfire, drawn in fineliner and felt-tip pens, with many swirling flames against a midnight blue background.]