The Different, Not Defective Exhibition, held at the TooT Artspace in St. Kilda from 13-30 June 2019 seeks to effect social change by raising awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by self-representing work by a designer with ASD on the subject of ASD. The challenges which Autistic people face with communication, relationships, education and employment and the way they experience and perceive their surroundings are included in the work. The exhibition work juxtaposes the experience of those on the spectrum with that of Neurotypical people. Also, a recent study has linked excessive screen use to Autism-like symptoms in children called Virtual Autism. Included in the exhibition are works which raise awareness of this connection, thus encouraging parents to limit their child’s screen time and encourage face to face social engagement.
Autism Spectrum is a lifelong developmental disorder characterised by difficulty in socialising, forming relationships and understanding verbal and non-verbal and communication (e.g. body language). Those with Autism experience discrimination and exclusion as they are often perceived as being indifferent, antisocial or lacking empathy. They are often ostracised from society and struggle to find employment.
The numbers of those diagnosed with Autism has increased dramatically in recent years. Being a graphic artist and designer on the Autism Spectrum, I believe it is becoming increasingly necessary to further educate society about Autism, its idiosyncrasies and promote social inclusion and acceptance of neurodiversity. In addition, changing the perception of Autism which is associated with rigid and logical thinking rather than creativity, would allow autistic creatives to get their foot in the door. This exhibition demonstrates that Autism is not a barrier to intuitive and creative design work, and that those with Autism can use their unique perspective to connect and engage with a wider audience.
Article in the Port Phillip Leader, 25 June 2019
Kirk's 2019 Spectrospective Video on Autism & Employment