Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Moment in Self Advocacy by Ondrea Marisa Robinson

This is an update to Ondrea's guest post on The Autism Wars about her fight for accessible transportation and the eventual positive outcome. Amplify Autistic Voices allows the publication of unfiltered, unedited, autistics speaking.  To read her first post on this topic click here.


Image description: RIPTA RIde vehicle #0141 in downtown Providence

I really didn't want to sign another RIde application to get on the paratransit service, because I felt like it wasn't worth fighting for, and at first, I felt like I was being forced against my own will by Monica, the Business Relations Supervisor, and Joe, my case manager, at the Office of Rehabilitation Services. But I did sign my name where I needed to sign.

 A day later after signing the application at the meeting, Monica called me and asked me who would be my emergency contact, and I told her that it was my mother Martha. That was fine. However, the next question she proposed to me was not appropriate, and that was if I was overweight. I asked if the question was on the application, and she said it wasn't, but she wanted to know if I was able to get on the bus. I answered that I wasn't overweight, but it was a personal question, didn't she think? (I took it personally, because I'm a curvy girl, and I'm very sensitive when it comes to people questioning my weight.)

 I addressed the overweight issue with her supervisor Ron, who did speak with her. He told me that her intentions were good, but they were inappropriate. And then on top of that, I wrote a letter to Ron to address the situation in full, along with sending Monica an e-mail about what she did. Did I receive a reply from the letter and/or the e-mail? No, I didn't. I am not going to force an apology from either one of them. And I hope that someone else doesn't get asked if he or she is overweight, because he or she might be devastated (or maybe not). A couple of weeks later, I opened my mailbox to see that I received a letter from RIPTA, regarding the RIde Program. I was thinking it was another rejection letter, saying that I was not approved. But when I opened it up, I felt a sigh of relief. I was shocked. I was glad to be approved for paratransit services. I did understand why Monica asked what she asked, but it could have been put in a different context. And I thanked her for doing her best to get me on the program, but she said there was no need to thank her.

 I tell you, God is good all the time, and He's worthy to be praised, because sometimes you have to speak up in order to be heard. And even if some people may not like it, oh well. You're doing your best.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Seven Questions: Because Patterns

Alyssa Hillary is an Autistic college student who blogs at Yes, That Too and runs Because Patterns. This is all the biography she would allow and is entirely too modest.  Amplify is beginning a series of interviews of really amazing people. Alyssa's is the first in the series. All artwork appears with permission of Alyssa @ Because Patterns. Enjoy!


1. Thank you for doing this interview! It is a very brief one. My husband and I have fallen in love with Because Patterns. There is something fractalicious about them.

What is your creative process when coming up with a design idea?



image of a mirror image pattern shapes
in black, and ice blue and purple on a green
 field flanked in light green all on a turquoise
background. Atop the apex of the pattern stands
a stylized neurodivergent human figure in orange,
apparent because the stylized hands are flapping
© Alyssa Hillary
*Big smile*

So my process is actually pretty simple. I grab a sheet of graph paper- I've got a few pads of 50ish sheets that are 10 squares per inch, so I generally have plenty of paper around. Then I decide how big a design I want to make. When I first started in 7th grade, designs were usually 8x8, 16x16, or 32x32 squares, and I only did lines at 45 degree angles. Now I do more than just squares in power of two sizes, and I do a lot more different angles, though it's still straight lines from one intersection of graph lines to another. Then I just make symmetry- there's generally either two or four axes of symetry: four for a square, the diagonals and then the midsegments, while for a rectangular one it's just the midsegments.

I don't usually go in with a specific thought in mind, but sometimes I'll grab elements I liked from older patterns and build something new around them.


2. Your Autism Acceptance design blew us away. The flapping hands and the color choice was spot on. Did you see the end concept as a whole completed work or did you build on a thought?


SQUEEEE.

Um, the Autism Acceptance design was at least partially an accident. I was trying to fill a funny-shaped space in a completely different design and realized that it looked kind of like a person with hands raised. This happened last March or February (no I don't remember), so Autism Acceptance Month was coming up and I realized I could try to make it flap. Then I made an octagonal world to put 8 people on and looked around in my piles of patterns I hadn't done anything with yet to see if I had anything good for an octagon of that size. Which I did! So I drew that in.  

After I had all the lines done, I started thinking about colors. The first color I decided was orange for the Autistic person, because that's the opposite color of blue and light it up blue is run by a pretty terrible organization. Then I decided that the world should be in greens mostly with maybe some blues because that's what it tends to look like from space, greens and blues. Different blue for the sky and a really, really light blue-gray for clouds was also meant to be semi-realistic. I made the allistic people (those lacking autism) purple because it didn't stand out too much and I really like the color purple. It's my favorite color, but I didn't want to make the Autistic people that color because it's adjacent to blue.

3. If the world could could be described in single colors, what color was the world the day you were born?

I don't really think that way so I'm just going to say purple. It's my favorite color, anyways, so I'd like it if it were purple just for me!

4. What music runs in the background of your creative life?

That varies hugely, but there is generally music stuck in my head. Amy MacDonald's “Poison Prince,” State Radio's “Knights of Bostonia,” and The Saturday Nights “People of the Sun” seem to wind up on repeat in my head pretty often.


5. If you could have an art show of your patterns, and you could have a light scent piped through the gallery as each exhibit was viewed, what scent or scents, if any, would you choose?


My first thought is “I want to be sensory-friendly, no scents!” My second thought is “Um scents?
Image of a fractal like repeating pattern in purple,
leaf green, & yellow-green with a sky blue background © Alyssa Hillary

How do I scents?” Because I don't think that way, really. I don't know if it's a sensory processing thing or if it's because my nose was always stuffy when I was a kid, but my sense of smell isn't that great and I tend not to notice or think in terms of scent. I guess I might do an ocean scent for the Autism Acceptance one because it's of the world and most of the world is ocean?



6. You find yourself standing in an elevator with Joss Whedon, who says hi and smiles at you. You realize you have the chance to say something about neurodivergence and self advocacy. What would be your elevator pitch to him about what autism is and how he could help how neurodivergence is viewed? Who would you want listening in that elevator to your statement?

I kind of wish I knew the name of some of the folks who wrote for Eureka, because oh my goodness did they mess up with the one (temporarily) autistic character they had. Yes, I might have blocked his name from my head over that. (They had him repair a time machine and send a few other people back in time, and then when they got back to the present day kid was magically not autistic!)
So I think my pitch would be something along the lines of “So... the kinds of specific and intense interests that everyone in Eureka has? Totally a common thing in autistic people. We're not always the world expert in our field, who always is, but some of us will be that level of good and if Eureka really existed there'd be a decent pile of autistic people around. And maybe an ASAN or AWN chapter that totally lies about all it's activities because it clearly can't reveal classified stuff to the national level group.”

7. If you were given the chance to write for a television series and take any character in a that series and reinvent it as a neurodivergent person who would it be and how would you do it? Feel free to expand on the presentation of autistic characters in entertainment and print


PACLA
image of a magazine cover with the title
Parenting Autistic Children With Love &
Acceptance. Supporting and accommodating
Autistic children respectfully, advocating for
neurodiversity & learning from Autistic voices.
Cover art © Alyssa Hillary
If I'm not required to stick to current shows, I'd grab the temporarily autistic kid from Eureka whose name I kinda blocked over that and make him stay autistic. Because for real, he would have been great representation. He's Black, he's being raised by a Black single mother who is very good at what she does (which varies some by continuity, see also: time travel.) As he gets older, he becomes friends with Officer Carter, who is the main character (average guy trying to be the police officer in a town full of geniuses who might not intentionally break the law much but goodness does chaos ensue anyways.) Imagine if we'd gotten to see a teenage Black Autistic boy growing up and being friends with the main characters and learning to hunt with them and it being treated like a normal thing!



If it had to be a show that was still running, I'd probably grab Sherlock from, well, Sherlock, because I just don't know that many current shows and the questionably autistic super-detective who never or rarely shows the difficulties that come with being autistic is a really icky trend. So I'd rewrite him to actually show autistic traits even when they aren't convenient for the plot. Disabled characters should be disabled always, not just when it's convenient for the plot.



Which is kind of a thing I see a lot. They're disabled when we need them, and then they either pass or they get shoved off to the side. There's a reason that a lot of Autistic people identify more with the characters who are never explicitly identified as neurodivergent: for me, it's Alanna of Trebond from Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness and Trisanna Chandler from Tamora Pierce's Emelan universe I tend to go to first, though Hermione from Harry Potter, Dina from Dumbing of Age, and Emily from Questionable Content are all on my list of characters I read as autistic. What do all of these characters have in common? None of them are identified as autistic in canon. (Dina has no diagnosed anything per word of author, but the statement was not diagnosed neurodivergent as opposed to not being neurodivergent and as of my freshman year of college I wasn't diagnosed either so...) There should be enough good characters that we don't need to ignore or stretch canon to get representation. But there isn't.


image description: Avatar for
This Is Autism twitter and tumblr sites:
three orange stylized autistic people
atop a purple white green and black
fractal patterned world surface against a
turquoise blue background.
©Alyssa Hillary

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Autistic Writer and Activist Puts Representation Ahead of Awareness, Acceptance

The right thing to do during a month designated for autism is to support talented neurodivergent authors, artists, and people who create change by producing works that transform attitudes and perceptions about autism. Outstanding author and activist Michael Scott Monje, Jr. has just launched a funding campaign for his newest project, Imaginary Friends, a web serial. I'll let him tell you about it! Remember to  click on the link below the video for information on perks for donations.

I've posted the press release verbatim with attribution because during the discussion the author states why he places representation ahead of awareness and acceptance. We throw these words around and don't really consider that attitudinal change is only achieved in a society through valid representation. The whole purpose of Amplify Autistics to let the voice of the neurodivergent change maker speak without filtering directly to the world. So without any more commentary here is Michael Scott Monje, Jr. :


https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/imaginary-friends-a-story-about-faith-family


"Autistic Writer and Activist Puts Representation Ahead of Awareness, Acceptance

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 PRLog (Press Release) - Apr. 1, 2014 - KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- Local writer and disability activist Michael Scott Monje, Jr. has announced a funding campaign for Imaginary Friends, a web serial that is to be distributed freely as it is written this summer.

The new series will feature Clay Dillon, the protagonist from Michael's first novel, Nothing is Right, and it will focus on the relationship between Clay and his mother as she attempts to push him through catechism in an attempt to make sure that he receives his first Holy Communion “on time.”

“I'm writing about a lot of the things I experienced as a kid,” Michael said when asked about his recurring character. “I wasn't diagnosed as autistic until my adulthood. So that part of Clay's character is about me. And I was raised Catholic.”

“It's not all about me, though. Clay is a parable about the problems people in our community have when they try to participate in the everyday institutions of our society. Church, school, the workplace... the stories about him are not just about me. They're about the way the world looks to people like me. I do my best to be widely representative.”

The launch of Michael's project this week coincides with Autism Awareness month, which is sponsored by large organizations like Autism Speaks. The event has become controversial in recent years, with autistic activists campaigning for Autism Acceptance month and calling attention to Autism Speaks' lack of autistic representation in its leadership. Recently, this has been highlighted by the resignation of its sole autistic spokesperson.

“Awareness isn't enough,” according to Michael. “Neither is acceptance. We need representation. We need to be the heart of stories, not just the quirky friend, the family's problem child, or some parent's burden. We're not all super detectives. Some of us are just trying to build relationships and keep our families together, and doing it in a world that seems like it was built to frustrate our brains is challenging.”

More information about funding the campaign can be accessed through Michael's blog, Shaping Clay, at http://www.mmonjejr.com. The blog also contains his last book about Clay Dillon, Defiant, which dealt with workplace and healthcare access issues, as well as poetry and essays about neurodiversity.

Contact
Michael Scott Monje, Jr."
***@gmail.com

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Gift: An Autistic Expression Story

Our autism community has been talking a great deal about a particularly beautiful work of body art worn by friend, activist, and autism dad Steve Summers. So AAV invited Steve to tell us how he came to own this one of kind tattoo and tell us a bit about himself as well. Gentle readers, in his own words, Steve:

The Gift

This past summer, I was treated to a tattoo as a birthday present from my wife, Amy.
Image description: 3 views of an ornate letter A tattooed in black in an indigenous style image © Amy Summers

The tattoo artist, Isaiah Dela Pena* is very talented. He did this tattoo free hand, without any stencils. He listened to my life story and designed a tattoo that is uniquely for me. The various elements represent things from my life. Nobody else will have the same tattoo.

About the tattoo's design and meaning:

Isaiah incorporated an "A" into the tattoo to represent many things for me; "A" for Autism because I am Autistic; "A" for my Awesome wife, Amy Summers; "A" for Amy's life-long friend, Annette Martin who went out and got an Autism tattoo in support of us; "A" also stands for Aloha. Aloha has several meanings relating to caring, kindness, and love as well as hello and goodbye.
Isaiah also tattooed four Hapu'u fern symbols to represent my four children, 'ohana surrounding me.
Body Artist Isaiah Dela Pena at work on Steve's gift photo ©Amy Summers
The entire piece is fluid to represent water and my love for the ocean. The points coming up along the top represent the tips of sails.
There are Spiritual elements incorporated into the tattoo. There are shark teeth to represent sharks, protection, and regeneration. Dots are spread throughout the piece to represent stepping stones. There are block shapes to represent building blocks.
Bird tracks represent that you need to walk before you fly. There are elements that represent the old style Polynesian tattoo tools/needles to honor the original beginnings of tattoo in Polynesia. There are various meanings represented by all of the elements of the tattoo.
This tattoo is not meant to be a static representation of my life up to this point in time, it also looks forward to the future.
I am very happy with the results! Thank you Isaiah!
*Isaiah's work can be followed at @tattoosbyzay on Instagram and by clicking here.

About Me

I am an Autistic Dad with four children - one Autistic, two ADHD and one NT. I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (part of the Autism Spectrum) as an adult. I was diagnosed following one of my son’s getting diagnosed with Aspergers.
I am happy to have my diagnosis. It was like a light being turned on that illuminated my entire life in a new way. Now I understand why I never really ‘fit in.’ It is like having a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders to have my diagnosis.
I don’t feel that people should make divisions between parts of the Autism Spectrum. I am autistic and I want to work to make the world a better, more understanding and accepting place for all autistic people. We need to work together for the benefit of all on the Autism Spectrum. Disability Rights are Human Rights.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Black Voices: Writer/Activist Patricia Elaine (Rose) Chandler

This post is part of a series of posts in protest of John Elder Robison's "The Myth of the Black Aspergian" two part article, in which Mr. Robison engages in speculation on the existence of people of color with Asperger's Syndrome, and further implies disturbing reasons as to why they do not seem prominent or vocal in the community. They are here with strong voices,  Mr. Robison is just not listening. Patricia, who is an activist and writer, in response to Mr. Robison's articles said :

"In keeping with what is Real, Authentic and True, I would actually like to Dedicate little Essay to Mr. Elder-Robison to Open His Mind, Heart and Senses so he too can be educated about what a Spectrum IS! And invite him for a Real Conversation!"

 Gentle people, in her own words, Patricia Elaine Chandler on the singular experience of being in the ebb and flow of The 2011 Newark New Jersey Peace Education Summit. Enjoy



There Is No Box!
Patricia expresses who she is in a powerful photographic statement
that combines jewelry and body art ©Patricia Elaine Chandler
Attaining Universal Peace, which is the Single Heart-Beat of Every Human Being, and what makes US One, is like Sand-Pebbles in a Sand-Box, representing all the Souls on Earth. In the Sand-Box are 7 Billion individual Sand-Pebbles, 6 billion are Black on one side and White on the other, and 1 billion are on the Endless Spectrum, in Color.
The Black and White ones really Hate being Who they are because they Know in their Hearts, Being in Color is the Way the Source intended it all along, though they cannot seem to reconcile with Real Change; because they have been Black and White for So long, becoming "Comfortable" and unfortunately, "Complacent", in their existence of Being Simply Black and White. They know nothing is Simply Black and White. And this is why the Color Sand-Pebbles must work harder than ever before. The Colorful Ones Know that All Beings are "In Color", which is Being Truly In Love with Self, first, and their Hearts Bleed, non-stop, for the Black and White Ones because they know they are just simply Color-Blind, in their Hearts.
Knowing this, the Color Sand-Pebbles Must Strive into Action, relentlessly, fearlessly, unwavering, magnificently, boldly, loudly, uncomfortably, disruptively, humbly, triumphantly, physically, mentally, emotionally, Spiritually, to Show the Way back home to Being In Color, In Love, for PEACE through Leading By Example; every single moment like every time we take a Breath of Sound, the 1st Element of Life. Can you truly iMaGINE how difficult it must be, trying to Show Humanity as a Colorful Sea of Peaceful, Loving Souls, to just even 1 Black and White Soul who is Color-Blind? There's a 1 in 7 Billion chance it will happen and though the odds are stacked against the Color Sand- Pebbles being swallowed up and lost in the Sand-Box, among the Black and White Sand-Pebbles, “Where There is the Will, There is the Way!”
The booklet cover art of the 3 days of Divine Events of “The 2011 Newark New Jersey Peace Education Summit”, sumed up, for Me, Peace is not Color-Blind, as the Souls of Newark NJ represented their True Colors to a World that only sees the Issues and Challenges of Newark as Black And White. Nothing is ever just Simply Black And White. I believe Technology was given to us as a Temporary Fix, to Wake Us Up, providing Bold, Brilliant, Colorful Beings, which created Sound, to bring the Earth Back together, so we can All go back to Playing in the Sand-Box, Together, where Black and White and Color does not actually exist, Only PEACE and LOVE, in the Hearts of 7 Billion Souls! That is why, I believe, the Tele-Vision went from Black and White to Techni-Color, 40 years ago. We needed to be Shown, All Souls exist on the Same Spectrum and that Spectrum is simply LIGHT, Bright and Brilliant.
Whether Black and White or Color, you cannot see or know anything, especially Peace, in the Dark. We must do everything in our individual and collective Power to make sure the Earth exists on the Light Spectrum and PEACE is the Only Way to The Light. Hope for Peace possible for Tomorrow, is evidenced in the picture I took at the end of
the summit, after seeing and meeting Miss. Jeanette Seabrooks of Dayton Street School in Newark NJ and their beautiful tribute to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, created by her students. I see them as Peace Warriors of Today, to become Peace Leaders for Tomorrow, and this is their Homage to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the honored guest of the Summit for PEACE. They are Doing Today, for Tomorrow.
Autistic or Not, This is Why I Will Be a Teacher, too! Thank You Ganden Thurman, of Tibet House NYC, from the top, center and bottom of My Heart, for providing this Real opportunity to be in Peace and Play Nice in the Same Sand-Box with my Fellow Sand-Pebbles for 3 Divine Days, which will stay with Me and Push Me on into Action for the rest of my Life.
It was a true, divine experience for Me, and I will be eternally grateful and humbled by this experience, to be among the Peace Leaders of the World, Today and Tomorrow, and I Felt His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Blessing for My continued Journey to Peace, Love and The Light! I think God created the Sand-Box, and as our Souls grow, so will the Box, and the Space between each Sand-Pebble, because in God's Eyes and Heart, There Really Is No Box! Growth is Infinite, so we Begin, Again, at 7, today!
I AM just a Single Sand-Pebble on the Autism Spectrum of Autistic Light, in Support, Care and Love in Peace, for All the Other Autistic Sand-Pebbles on the Spectrum of Light! I AM Patricia Elaine Chandler, A future Student-Teacher-Singer-Advocate-Activist of Yours sincerelyX, authenticallyX, divinelyX, spirituallyX and Unconditionally LovinglyX!

Patricia Elaine (Rose) Chandler
|Brooklyn, New York |USA|7Jun2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Black Voices: Author LaVonnya Gardner

LaVonnya Gardner is a powerful voice for autism. She is a contributing writer to Autism Now, a speaker on autism and aac, an autism mom, and an overall great person I was happy to meet online. I love her vlog on youtube, so I thought I would share that as well. One note about language. This is LaVonnya's voice, and it was important to me to make it clear she is typing this on her own and is quite a capable woman of color. Therefore I did not edit the content. Gentle people, in her own words, the amazing LaVonnya Gardner speaking.



LaVonnya resplendent in Red at the NFB
MY NAME IS LAVONNYA. I am an autistic adult, who uses my iPad to communicate. For as long as i can remember, I was bullied, by staff and students, at the school that i went to.  i am still bullied, part of it is do to misinformation about autism. This is not to say that misinformation was the only reason. some bully me for fun. they take an, I know everything stance. and when things don't work as they want, somehow, it's my fault when people don't understand me,, they tend to make up stuff about me, rather than asking me. which is plain stupid. given the fact that we are put in therapy when we don't ask questions people also love to gossip about me, weather i am there or not. and insist that I can control my autism, and that i want attention. screw the fact that, i try my best to keep what I am GOIN through to myself.  they pay that no mind. adults are the worst. even after admitting that they know nothing about autism. while i was and am still bullied, i think that some of it has to do with me not giving a hamburger about what others want me to do. when it comes to changing me bullying doesn't stop just  because we become adults am I afraid of interacting with people? yes I am. and here's why.
first, i am not given a fair chance at most relationships. most of the time, i am miss understood, then acused of things i not only didn't do, but most of the time, i have no clue what is going on. something else that happens is, I am told to say what is on my mind, but when I do, I am told to stop putting myself down, or told that I have low self esteem, or that I must be depressed. and we must not forget , people who meet me first, and dump me when they find better friends. the other thing is that, people will talk to me when they are board, an lonely and they can' get to their real friends or are in a fight with them. so, i just do things on my own, rather then wait for others to have time for me. or for them to think that I'm enough of a real person to include me. i like people. they  just treat me like they don't want anything to do with me, if they cannot control me. as if i am just an object. I love going on you tube, and seeing all of the autistic adults, talking about autism because, non autistics can learn more from autistic people then they can from people who are not. and autistic people Learn best from each other. i also like going to these to peer to peer groups. but I am the only one who uses other methods of communicating. their are others like me. i would love to meet some of them. this way i can Succeed socially for a change. one of the things i learned at group is that, autism has more Symptoms than i knew. on the higher end of the spectrum, they can read body language, and faces. and there is no way i can.  i can only look at a person's lips so that I can read them.  Also, my attention span is too short to even look at a person that long. other things that you might think about are, that , just because an autistic adult may use other methods of communication, doesn't mean that we need to be verbal. there is nothing wrong with our communication. another thing is, just because we might be able to do some things  sometimes does not mean that it will always work that way. words are more like incomprehensible sounds to me. i also only hear in 1 ear. that makes things really interesting, at times. on the phone, i use a few methods. just as i do in person. on the  phone, i use a t t y, video relay, clear caption, i p relay, and when I am calm, sometimes i can call without any of it, but then i understand very little. in person, i use my iPad, Dynavox, flash cards, sign language, or some combination. i would never want to be changed. i am happy just the way i am. autism is not a Disease.. it will not kill me. i live on my own, and do just fine. I spin, jump, flap my hands, rock, use sign language, and my i'pad, to communicate, cover my ears when it is too loud, shut my eyes when it is too bright, ware what won't freak me out, don't touch things that will, stay away from foods, and smells that will make me barf, and live life. i have learned to explain my autism to people, in comprehensable ways. i know what i can do, what i cannot do, as well as what needs to be adapted, or where i will need help. I can do this because, i got to know myself. getting to know ourselves, is the only way we will be able to speek up for ourselves. on the  phone, i use a t t y, video relay, clear caption, i p relay, and when I am calm, sometimes i can call without any of it, but then i understand very little.


AUTISTIC PEOPLE, ARE GOD'S PEOPLE.


This is part of a series of posts in protest of John Elder Robison's "The Myth of the Black Aspergian" two part article, in which Mr. Robison engages in speculation on the existence of people of color with Asperger's Syndrome, and further implies disturbing reasons as to why they do not seem prominent or vocal in the community. They are here with strong voices,  Mr. Robison is just not listening. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Photographer Jane Strauss

I am continuing my presentation of powerful autistic voices, by next introducing an artist and powerful  parent advocate creating beautiful photographs while raising a neurodivergent son. I hope to be able to ask Jane to share faith, parenting an autistic child, and maintaining her focus on her work in an interview coming soon. 

Jane Strauss is a woman who makes photographic art in a way that is uniquely neurodivergent. There is a meticulous attention to detail that makes the world according to Jane rich, sharp, open, and breathtaking. Please see her photographs at janesprints or follow her fan page on Facebook here.

In her own words, here is Jane:


I have been interested in art since forever. I first picked up a camera in the late 1960s on the East Coast,
photo courtesy of the artist all rights reserved
Jane rocking braids  © Jane Strauss
when at the age of fifteen I learned to shoot and develop 35 mm black and white film. I’ve been enamored of graphic arts ever after. Since then, I have tried to be practical, pursued multiple academic courses of study, relocated to the Twin Cities in the mid-1970s, raised a family, worked with community organizations, nonprofits, and in the practice of law, before returning to my first love, art.

Before 2009, I had no formal training in digital photography, other than one course in use of Adobe Photoshop . I had very limited, informal training in the technical aspects of film photography years ago, limited to use of the darkroom for black and white film developing and printing. My formal art training consisted of general art and drawing classes in high school and at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA, in the 1960s.

My work has been shot with an Olympus D-SLR for the past several years. Recently, I have begun to produce more images of nature, as we spend increased time on 49 acres in the Ozarks.

My art flows from who I am, a person placed on the autistic spectrum in midlife who has often wondered why I see detail many folks miss. I look at the trees and the forest, and see the geometric shapes between and within them. I wait for the animals to settle, and come right up to them for a look. I notice small details and parts of things that for the usual person blend in with their surroundings. I look up to the sky when many would look down or straight ahead. I focus on reflections. Once images are digitized, I use Photoshop to crop, enlarge and adjust them to reflect what I saw, rarely using other aspects unless they substantially strengthen the primary image, or provide a strongly-contrasting accompanying image. 

I make images of nature, architecture, classic cars, and human artifacts.
© Jane Strauss

One of my fans puts it this way:

"Jane Strauss captures images with her camera that most of us would never take the time to look close enough to see - the detail on an old car's hood ornament, the lush growth along a flooded waterway, the frosted roses as winter approaches, and the delicate tendrils of wildgrass. Her images are sharp, crisp, and sigh-inspiring, making the viewer wonder how much beauty and detail they have missed by not looking closely enough at our environment. It is a wonderful gift to be able to see these details and hidden images through Jane's eyes. Her renderings using digital software allow her to bring certain elements to light so that what might seem to others like the simplest subject - a bird on a tree, or old tools, turns into true art."

I will be presenting a Jane Strauss original to a lucky winner during the month of June. Stay tuned to The Amplify Autistic Voices Blog for more summer beauty through autistic eyes.