Aliens among us

Last night the people here noticed a strange blue glow coming from the old castle in the forest. The light show invoking alien invasion was however highlighting some of our fellow humans who live among us, yet are often treated like alien beings. On World Autism Awareness Day, blue light illuminated countless locations worldwide, from Niagara Falls to this crumbling old castle. Not so long ago, autism was considered a rare condition, while today it is recognized to affect one in 100 people, though often the symptoms remain undiagnosed. Probably, autistic people have always been among us, though in earlier times would be stuck with the labels 'village idiot' or 'eccentric genius'. Albert Einstein is assumed to have been on the autism spectrum, only back in his time autism research was in its infancy.

Members of Tarján regional Abigél Association set up their local event by involving the local populace in a photo and art competition. Generally the most direct way toward understanding phenomena and people is through closer contact, and reporting on our personal experience and opinion. Most often, autistic children only receive attention in school, where they prove socially reclusive and aloof, and are forced to deal with the resulting difficulties. The degree of autism varies from case to case. Some do not talk at all, but show remarkable abilities in other areas. Most of the time, social chitchat and pursuing novel experiences – quite commonplace for most of us – are uncharacteristic of people on the autism spectrum. They tend to be much more focused and pay intense attention to details, even something like shadows on a wall, appreciating minutia most of us don't even register. Their developmental needs require special attention both in terms of weaknesses and strengths.

Another NGO working with autistic young people, Autistic Art Foundation is engaged in mapping the individual visual worlds of autistic artists. Most of the school art curriculum is focused on teaching children realistic representation, while these young people's approach to art, and even to interpreting reality, is radically different. Autism seems to support more geometrically ordered artistic compositions. Featuring a range of art sessions for autistic child home residents, Autistic Art program has featured several exhibitions of these children's work. Merchandise featuring these artworks (eg. T-shirts, silk scarves, notepads) generate revenue to support the homes participating in the program.

Looking at these pictures and the designer items they're featured on, all doubts – in case  there ever were any – vanish whether or not people living with autism can actually produce anything of value.


pictures by autistic artists (Gábor Zoltán, Nóra Kalocsai)

designer products based on autistic artists' works