This next academic year will be my last, as I will finally be graduating with my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Spring 2018. It seems a bit surreal since I’ve been going to college since 2011, initially part-time and for the past few years, full-time. I’ve been juggling working, raising my daughter, and doing my school work for the past six years. It’s been a very busy but rewarding journey.
That being said, this last year will be focused on writing a thesis and basing a body of work on that thesis. I’ve been thinking about this part for years, with several different ideas being at the forefront and then gradually drift to the back of my mind as new ideas took the stage. I believe that I have finally settled on an idea that I feel passionate about and it’s a topic that I feel needs recognition.
I want to do a body of work focused on the experience of autistic women. I've found that there is a lack of artwork out there that seeks to convey the reality of being a woman on the spectrum, and I would like to provide my perspective in hopes that it will encourage more autistic women to open up about their own.
A lot of women who are on the spectrum have often gone undiagnosed for the majority of their lives. There are multiple overlapping reasons for this having been the case. First of all, there is very little research on how autism presents itself differently in girls/women, with the majority of research having been done on how it affects boys. Though, due to the rise in awareness of autism in girls/women, this is slowly changing. Another reason that many women go undiagnosed is due to sexism among mental health professionals. Women are more likely to be diagnosed with a mood disorder like Bipolar, Borderline Personality Disorder, or Depression. Anxiety and ADHD are also commonly diagnosed instead of Autism, though they also have a high rate of co-morbidity.
I'm intimidated about the prospect of producing a body of work on something as complex and misunderstood as autism is, but I am also excited and hopeful about it being somehow cathartic for me as well.