Autistic creativity shown in Ōrewa art exhibition

May 4, 2022

Autistic creativity shown in Ōrewa art exhibition

Artist and entrepreneur Tamara Grant is on a mission to provide a voice for neurodiverse people in Aotearoa. Photo: Emma Hildesley. 

Highlighting neurodiversity was the aim of Autistic Expression, the latest exhibit at Orewa Estuary Arts Centre.

Tamara Grant, of Xabilities, hopes events like this will help decrease stigma around autism, as well as be a voice for neurodiverse peoplle with "invisible" disabilities.

"People need to hear this from an autistic-made perspective and I’m so proud of the work that we’ve done and the people who put their art in.”

One of the artists, 18-year-old Kai Laing, says “events like this where people with autism are sharing their own experience is really important because I think a lot of people forget that we are just people".

Laing says misrepresentation of autistic people in mainstream media is one factor in the constant misrepresentation of autistic people.

“I’ve noticed whenever a writer intentionally writes an autistic character, they include all of the stereotypes and it’s often very offensive honestly,” they say.

Teresa Moore, of the Catalytic Foundation, says supporting neurodiverse people and organisations is crucial to building a better society.

“If you teach in a way that people with autism will respect, like visual learning, it helps everyone else learn too,” Moore says.

“Everybody needs support to be able to promote their skills and they might be thinking they can’t get out there or they are feeling stuck but there’s a whole community out here for them,” she says.

With Autism Awareness Month coming to an end, Grant urges New Zealanders to go further than simply being "aware".

“Autism awareness is out, and autism acceptance is in. We don’t want people to simply know who we are anymore. We need them to actually accept us,” Grant says.

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