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The Autism Unveiled Project counts down to World Autism Awareness Day
Over 85 blogs written by autistic people will be posted in six weeks ending on April 2, 2015. Sharing their insights, struggles, and humanity are Temple Grandin, Stephen Shore, Tito Mukhopadhyay, Jacob Barnett and many others on the spectrum
Autism is a neurological variation that occurs in a little over two percent of the population and is classified as a developmental disability. Autism has no socio-economic class, gender, race, country, religion, personality or profession.
April is Autism Awareness Month .
Autism Unveiled is a six-week project culminating on April 2, 2015, World Autism Awareness Day which shares unique perspectives of those living on the autism spectrum. Each day the website the Art of Autism (http://www.the-
The purpose of the project is to show the diversity of the autistic population and highlight the gifts, the struggles, and concerns of people on the autism spectrum. Autistic people have been marginalized in society. Their self-image is influenced by negative media stories which portray autistic people as having a disorder. Many parents seek cures and fixes for their children. The persistent, negative media disempowers the entire population and leads to exclusion and bullying. Many autistic people suffer from anxiety and low self-esteem.
Over eighty people responded from eight different countries and over 25 different states. The age ranges of the participants is from 9 – 70 and about equal numbers of males and females are represented. Dr. Stephen Shore, Jennifer O’Toole, and Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay kicked off the project with blogs on Feb. 18. Temple Grandin, Jacob Barnett (the 16-year old doctoral student in physics) and many others on the spectrum contributed insightful essays to the project.
‘The entire project is an art form in itself,” curator Debra Muzikar says. “I hope it will be an interactive experience. Visitors are encouraged to comment on the blogs and join in the conversation.”
Notable participants are a fourteen year old non-verbal girl who paints beautiful angels, flowers, and balloons; a sixteen-year old young man who created an autism video for parents of newly diagnosed children as a project for Eagle Scouts; a doctoral student who runs a popular Facebook page Autism Spectrum Pride in Everything; a 29-year old severely autistic man who lives independently;
Common threads in the blogs are a history of being bullied and fear of discrimination for differences. An optometrist from Canada wrote an essay about her Aspergers, yet will not identify her real name or location in Canada because of the fear of discrimination. The unemployment rate of autistic adults is about 90 percent. A successful business owner on the spectrum shared her observation that people on the spectrum must work much harder at the same job in order to keep that job. This was repeated by others.
Several participants, including Jennifer O’Toole (Asperkids), discovered they were on the autism spectrum after their child was diagnosed. This is not uncommon. Several moms and dads who contributed to this project have autistic children and were diagnosed after their children.
All the posts show unique insights by a creative group of people who think in different ways.
“In order to succeed you must think in your own unique perspective way,” says sixteen-year old Jacob Barnett, a doctoral student who is autistic.
To date, over 10,000 people have visited the blogs. Debra feels confident that the project will be of value to the autism community.
“Visiting an online project such as Autism Unveiled allows people who wouldn’t normally visit a gallery or buy a book to be part of the experience,”
The Autism Unveiled Project can be viewed at http://www.the-