Autism and the arts

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Hi my name’s Adam Humphreys and I’m a photographer and music writer, and I also work as a customer assistant at a well-known supermarket retailer in Staffordshire. I’m into rock music including rock/indie bands such as Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, Kings of Leon, Black Sabbath, Muse, The Clash, The Kinks, The Beatles, David Bowie, Kate Nash and Kate Bush; dance music such Example, Disclosure, Skrillex and Knifeparty; and Soul singers such as the likes of Adele, the late Amy Winehouse, Corinne-Bailey Rae, Duffy, Michael Kwiwanuka and Paloma Faith.

I enjoy t.v shows such as Eastenders, Dr Who, Strictly Come Dancing, The Voice, Orphan Black, Jonathan Creek, Spooks and Family Guy. I try to avoid ITV at all costs unless a new series of Birds of a Feather is on and I can’t stand The X-Factor, I’m A Celeb, Britain’s Got Talent, T.O.W.I.E or any other reality-t.v based nonsense on ITV.

I’m an avid fan of Radio 1, and I like going to the gym and being social, I enjoy franchise film such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, St Trinians, James Bond, the Twilight saga, even your stand alones such as World War Z, 12 Years a Slave and Slumdog Millionaire. I drive a car like anyone else, have a degree, a good social circle, am ethnically Christian with interests in Buddhism, Hinduism and Wicca and am gay but that’s enough about me, but a least you get a general round-up of me from  the first three paragraphs.

What you probably wouldn’t know about me just from looking at me is that I have what is called Asperger’s Syndrome which is a mild form of Autism.

For me, as a person who A.S my diagnosis came about at an awkward time as I’d not long started my teens and that’s a time when many people are trying to both find out who they are as a person when where they fit in socially with their peers. Around the time I left primary school for secondary school I would get the odd nasty comment saying I was a ‘weirdo’ and a ‘freak’ and for anyone who has doesn’t have vasts amount of confidence and have discovered that they’re autistic you begin to believe that they’re right. For me this became awkward because not only was I trying to live what I to call a normal life, but I also began to wonder not only was it like having a learning disability, knowing that there was some social stigmata attached to it, but that I was also beginning to notice guys around me as well. For several years I went through I phase thinking that I was bisexual in a bid to convince myself that I would be normal, whilst deep down I knew that I was actually gay.

Since then I have come to accept that both my disability and sexuality are a part of me and am learning to both live with it and come to peace with it as well.

Disability info

There are no visible signs to the disability but there are a wide range of characteristics such as restricted patterns in behaviour, various problems in social interactions, misunderstanding the feelings and actions of others. No A.S/Autism suffer is the same and it affects a variety of people in a whole variety of ways. With me I’m at the mild end of the spectrum and in many ways can lead a fairly normal life as compared to some who need who require constant supervision. The condition affects around 700,000 people in the UK alone, that’s more than 1 in 100 people of which I myself am also amongst and it cannot be cured, but those who have it can receive some form of help. It also refeered to as ‘the hidden disability’ so it’s not easy to tell who and who hasn’t got it or how badly they’ve got it. Whilst it’s still unknown what the causes of it are genetics and enviroment are said to play a role

There are various other problems that are also related to the Autistic spectrum such as limited speech such as speech delay in speech and verbal expression,  mumbling in sentences or trying to construct sentences with various difficulty, and in some it’s echoing what may have been heard. Some of the social characteristics is facial expressions, understanding either jokes or sarcasm. The range of the autistic spectrum also effects the everyday lives from studying at either school, college and/or university to home life with basic tasks like washing yourself or eating. People who the disability can have a intense range of interest be it either music, trains or computers etc. In terms of how those who suffer from it many feel mentally isolated and unable to reach out and find themselves not really knowing how to make themselves understood. This can lead to moments of frustration at times. Lastly, from the point of view of the sufferer learning things at a slower rate to others isn’t easy but this doesn’t mean that they are in any way stupid at all, it just means that it takes a while longer for them to absorb information and process it.

Not every person who suffers from Autism is the same, there is a wide range going from serve disability to normal where you appear normal as anyone else to superior intellect. Some of those with high levels of intellect have gone on to great things.

There are numerous high-profile people who have Autism and it hasn’t held them back and they have gone on to achieve many things. Here’s a list of people with it who have done just that.

Lizzy Clark – British Actress

Henry Bond – British Photographer and Writer

Susan Boyle – British Singer/BGT finalist

Luke Jackson – British Author

Paddy Considine – British Actor

Liane Holliday Wiley – American Author

Adam Young – American Singer/Owl City front-man

Craig Nicholls – Australian Singer/The Vines front-man

Ari Ne’eman  – American Autism Rights campaigner

Dan Harmon – American Screenwriter

Daryl Hannah – American Actress

Johnny Dean – British Singer

Courtney Love – American Singer/Hole front-woman

Todd Hodgetts – Australian Paralympic Swimmer

Jonathan Lerman – American Artist

Heather Kuzmich – American Model/A.N.T.M contestant

David Bryne – British born American Singer

Dan Aykroyd – American Actor

James Durbin – American Singer

Phillipa Brown – New Zealand Singer/Ladyhawke front-woman

 

There have even been depictions in both t.v and film of characters whom have autism

T.V

Roy Cooper (played by David Neilson) – Coronation Street

Gil Grissom (played by William Peterson) – C.S.I Crime Scene Investigation

Karla Bentham (played by Jessica Baglow)  – Waterloo Road

Max Braverman (played by Max Burkholder) – Parenthood

Jerry Epsenson (played by Christian Clemson) – Boston Legal

Jonah Jeremiah “JJ” Jones (played by Ollie Barbieri) – Skins

Gary Bell (played by Ryan Cartwright) – Alphas

Sherlock Holmes (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) – Sherlock

Spencer Gray (played by Darren John Langford) – Hollyoaks

Film

Raymond “Ray” Babbitt (played by Dustin Hoffman) – Rain Man

Jay Underwood (played by Eric Gibb) – The Boy Who Could Fly

Molly McKay (played by Elisabeth Shue)  – Molly

Daniel Connelly (played by Harry Connick Jr) – P.S I Love You

Mandy (played by Ashley Rickards) – Fly Away

Oskar Schell (played by Thomas Horn) – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

James (played by Miko Hughes) – Mercury Rising

Nick Young (played by Booboo Stewart) – White Frog

Tim Warden (played by Ben Faulkner) – Silent Fall

In 2003 a book came out called The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time which was written by British author Mark Haddon. The book is written in the first-person perspective and tells the story of a 15 year old boy, Christopher Boone, who turns detective when he discovers a dead dog in his neighbours’ back garden. The book two awards, joint winner of the 2004 Boeke Prize and the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year award and reviews positive reviews and became a stage play in 2012 gaining further positive reviews and seven Oliver Awards.  Whilst Haddon himself doesn’t have Asperger’s he has worked with people who have Autism during his lifetime.

My diagnosis came about when I was about 11 or 12 years old. I’ve gradually taken time to learn about what it is, how it affects me and those around me, and how to live with it. During my life I’ve met others with the disability and how it affects them and those around them. What is also worth remembering is that like the many of the 1 in 10 people with this disability, I am a normal everyday human; as human as the people who made the word-press provider from which this very blog was made; as human as the person who made the laptop on which I made this blog; and as human as the person who made the device on which you are reading this message.

‘If you suffer from something you can’t cure you shouldn’t have to hide it, but learn how to live with it’.

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

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