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.