Autistic adults have made beautiful animation in a project that highlights their creativity and different ways of thinking.
The films are part of a larger research by University of Exeter Exploring Diagnosis, and highlight adults’ thoughts about their autism diagnoses, and neurodiversity, the idea that autistic brains are not ‘disordered’ but should be considered a normal part of human variation. The advantages autism may bring were highlighted in a recent article by the Exeter team in the journal Autism in Adulthood.
Autistic adults made the three films with artists who each have an autism diagnosis from Texas, Washington, Vancouver and Cornwall and the production company Calling the Shots.
The State of Being Different and Sometimes I Think I’m Better feature the voices of autistic adults – who are aged in their 20s up to their 70s and from around the UK. Their commentary is accompanied by drawings and animations. The third film, In My Head and Heart, provides a glimpse of the artists’ working lives and their understanding of themselves and their craft.
The films were premiered at an event at the University on World Autism Awareness Day, 2nd April and also shown at subsequent events in London, San Diego and Bristol. You can view all the films here.
Here is the film featuring J.A. Tan:
Ginny Russell, who is leading the project, said: “We wanted to explore what happens to a person when they are diagnosed with autism. These films illustrate the impact on their life and their family and friends, and we hope it will be enlightening for doctors and other clinicians to watch.”
“For some diagnosis improved their lives, for others their reaction is more complex and not always positive, and we hope the films will raise awareness of this.”
For one contributor, it raised the question of the perception of autism, “It’s often talked about like an ‘add-on’ to your personality, sort of like a little wart or something, I think it’s an integral part of who you are”.
Angela Weddle one of the artists featured in the films: said: “This has been a wonderful and engaging experience. The process of learning animation by doing it, essentially jumping right in, may seem overwhelming to some but as an artist with autism and other neurodiverse conditions, it is helpful as it circumvents overthinking and some executive functioning issues that can arise with too much planning.
“It has been a great opportunity to not only tell my story and those of others, but to expand my own artistic practice and see new possibilities for communication, expression, and art making.”