Meghan, 32.

I’m a mixed media artist. I mostly paint and draw and do some other things like photography. I realised I was good at it when I was maybe about seven and I tended to focus more on detail (a common Asperger’s trait). I work at a supported art studio in Geelong called ArtGusto and we exhibit and sell regularly. I also study full time at Oxygen College. I’ve also got Facebook pages and Instagram for my work. When I’m being creative, I feel like I’m being me. I think my Autism does help me to be creative because of my ability to focus on small detail. I do get my inspiration from other artists, but also from things like everyday life. Like travel. At the end of last year, I went on a cruise from Perth to Brisbane, via Papua New Guinea, among other places.
I was diagnosed at the age of nine. I didn’t fully understand it, maybe because of my age, but I understood it more when I started to research it when I was around fifteen or sixteen and recognised the symptoms. Both my brother and I are on the Autism spectrum, with me having Asperger’s Syndrome and him being non-verbal Autistic. There was a time when I wish that Autism wasn’t a thing, due to being bullied at school for having a brother with Autism, but not today. Learning to understand my Asperger’s, I remember feeling slightly confused as to why certain parts of it like being smart and creative may be considered a disability?
I have a few explanations to other people as to what Autism or Asperger’s is. It’s where you struggle to connect with others. Asperger’s is where if you imagine that all the world’s a stage and all the people who don’t have Asperger’s have a script to learn from. The people who do have Asperger’s don’t have that script so they have to look off others. Another one I’ve come up with is in the world of Harry Potter and the people who don’t have Asperger’s are called muggles. People who do have Asperger’s are the witches and wizards. Because witches and wizards have their own unique powers, but tend not to interact with muggles much.
What does Autism mean to me? It’s my culture. It’s my language. I grew up knowing no other way, since my brother and I are the only two children in our family and we are only 17 months apart in age. A perfect world for me would be where Autism is accepted as a language or culture.
Benefits of Autism for me are problem solving and creativity. It’s like the Temple Grandin quote, “If there were no Autism in this world, we would all be in caves socialising and nothing would get done.” I say, “You know what? Let’s cure Autism. And while we’re at it, let’s cut off the world’s power supply. Because that’s what we’d be doing.”
In my spare time, I like doing things like going for walks and playing computer games. I can’t decide on a favourite book or movie character, but if I were to pick one on the Spectrum, I would say Boo Radley from To Kill A Mockingbird because he is the least social and non-verbal in the book and seen as evil by the townspeople, but turns out to be good in the end when he carries Scout home when she breaks her arm.
My I CAN network would probably be my family and local Autism Support Group in Geelong called The Treehouse. When I first heard of the I CAN Network a few years ago, I actually thought I CAN stood for Individuals Creating Autism Network and to me, it is along with supporting each other.
I’m saying I CAN to being the best I can be. As quoted from the movie The Greatest Showman, “No one made a difference by being like everyone else.”

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