Update

My speech on September 28th went particularly well and I wanted to share it with all of you:

My kickstarter ended and right now it’s in the stage of collecting payment. Once I get the cards and fulfill the orders, I will be donating some to various animal welfare organizations to help raise money for them. I will also be listing some on etsy as well! I’m so pleased that the kickstarter was such a success.

I didn’t have the opportunity to protest Autism Speaks Canada, but I am hoping I can be there next year. I always talk about how they continue to silence Autistic voices, so it wasn’t a surprise when I went on twitter today to see that I was blocked.

I was talking about the Inclusion Art Show and that’s happening this Thursday. If you’re local to Vancouver, i’d love to see you there.

I have plenty more I want to write about but it’s late (or early?) and I can’t formulate anything else at this time.

Thanks for reading!

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You know what’s more important than selling art?

Being myself and having the freedom to do so without people attacking me for it.

The last couple of days have been rough. The images above continued to spark a firestorm of negativity against me. I have been getting criticized from all angles. I have been told that I shouldn’t be mixing business and politics by a couple of people.

It’s funny, I suppose they’ve never read this blog. I’ve been very honest about how I feel about things. I’ve spoken out against issues plaguing the LGBTQ communities when it came to the former director of AutismBC. Why did I do it? I firmly believe that LGBTQ rights are human rights and that someone who is supposed to be representing Autistic people shouldn’t be speaking out against young children learning about sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s not okay. We’re supposed to be creating safe spaces for youth. I knew for a very long time about myself that I didn’t identify as feeling female (or feeling male) and i’ve recently come out as non binary which has been very freeing but also has opened me up to a whole lot of hate from people.

I guess i’ve been bullied for the majority of my life and i’ve touched on that in previous blog posts.

So i’m DEFINITELY for LGBTQ rights. That’s one thing people gave me hell about.

The second thing is my support for Greta Thunberg who speaks about the fact that she is Autistic (but has been formally diagnosed under the umbrella of Aspergers) and how powerful, inspiring and amazing she is! That alone had climate-change deniers and trump supporters coming after me. I can’t believe how many people are bullying a young person with such a fierce nature to create change in this world. They make comments like “She’s a sick girl” or “She needs to go back to school” which I think is just backwards. They talk about her [neurodiversity] like she’s sick, unwell, needs healing or is severely disabled. It breaks my heart–especially as someone who is passionate about creating change, albeit not at the same level that she’s been able to achieve and i’m focused on different topics.

The third and final thing that people were getting upset with me about is the fact that I am pro-choice. I firmly believe in “my body, my choice”. I am not going to decide what other people do with their bodies! That’s none of my business. I have written two articles about being childfree and how I believe in overpopulation, that we’re destroying our planet (so you can see why I support Greta so much!) and that I never, ever want to have kids. I am sure I have some kind of gender dysphoria and if something were to ever grow inside of me and take over my body, I would be in a much deeper depression than I already am dealing with. I’m still thinking about getting my tubes tied but not everyone has (or wants) that option. I don’t need political figures deciding what is happening in my uterus. That’s just not okay.

I count my lucky stars that I am a Canadian and I have the rights that I do because I am truly privileged to live here.

So, back to the title of this article:

I’d rather be able to express myself freely than make another CENT off of my artwork. I am not compromising who I am and I shouldn’t have to be subjected to people freaking out at me if they don’t agree with me. I believe in LGBTQ rights, I believe in climate change, I am pro-choice and I am non binary.

“Don’t mix politics with business” someone said.

You know what I say?

Say that to Trump.

Say that to Chic-fil-a.

Don’t say that to me.

(I would like to properly attribute these images to their sources but I am unable to find them through google image search. If you know the creators, please let me know so I can properly credit them. Thanks!)

It’s a mood, for sure.

Trying to see through the thick cloud of anxiety and depression is no easy task. It’s a huge, huge burden to bare. The flashbacks have become more repetitive, they feel deeper. Each time I fail, I feel those traumatic events seeping back in and filling those gaps where hope once was. It is a situation full of despair.

I’m so lucky to have these cute, silly beings in my life though. They make it all worth it.

I should be happy or at the very least feeling fine. I think part of the disappointment is due to the fact that I really thought the article on The Mighty would perform better. I thought it would drive people to my website and to my shop, but the views and interactions have been fairly dismal.

The hits on my Etsy shop have totally decreased too. I heard there’s something going on with an algorithm to do with the people that don’t have free shipping or don’t offer it on all their listings. It’s making them less visible. I know for me that when i sell original pieces, shipping is included. It’s everything that’s made by a 3rd party that has shipping separately.

I also should be pleased with myself about having my speech coming up later this week and being approved to be a consultant about issues surrounding mental health and Autism–and yes, I am looking forward to creating change, but i’m also the poster child for those issues. So, I guess in a roundabout kind of way, i’m going to really be able to reflect on my experiences and create change. That’s the silver lining.

I wanted to share some images that my customers have shared with me, which is pictures of their purchases from my etsy shop. This helps keep me going, but sales in the last while have been so dismal. I’m also upset because the way advertising works on etsy is that I paid 4.80 American to get one person to click on one item that they didn’t even buy. So frustrating. I’ve heard better things about facebook ads but i’m just not even sure how to go about it. Seems when I talk about business, there’s people that genuinely want to help and then there’s people who poach on my lack of experience and try to manipulate me to pay them. I guess that’s another business strategy–but it’s one that I don’t want anything to do with.

If I can bring joy to others, even though i’m suffering, well.. I think that’s a way to turn something negative in to something positive.

I tried creating a new plaque that says “cats make life purrfect” but the cats I drew look terrible. The two wood signs I was happy about completing, haven’t really seen much traffic either. I thought they’d be a bigger hit.

My holiday cards are also still up for pre-ordering at a reduced rate. Hoping to have my hands on those the 3rd week of October, ready for shipping.

Greta Thunberg, a climate change activist and fellow Autistic has been taking quite a beating online. It really upsets me that people say such horrible things about her. I think politics are a main driving factor for people to be so hateful in this world. I tweeted about the honesty of Autistic people and how we’re fact based and it definitely goes for her too. Actually, this quote of mine says it all:

So many opportunities

You might have found my blog through the amazing article written by Renee over at The Mighty and if not, you can read that here!

I have been creating art for as long as I can remember.

I also had a fasciation with running a business. When I was younger my uncle actually gave me a very memorable birthday present. He gave me some business cards he made for me, file folders, an open/close sign and one of those receipt books with carbon paper.

Fast forward to 2019 and i have been lucky enough to find success through my etsy store. I recently added this design:

This wasn’t my first taste of business, though At around 15 years of age, I was reselling vintage on ebay. This has always been something i’ve been super passionate about.

Since i already struggle socially, I am constantly leanring new ways to cope and interact with people.

I recently got accepted to a local artist collaboration group and I feel so lucky that I can help others, get their help and meet new people. It’s been so perfect for me and I look forward to the next session.

I also will be speaking at Kickstart Disability: Arts & Culture’s 10×5 at the CBC Vancouver on September 28th. I have my speech ready to go and images selected.

The final thing is that I will have 4 pieces displayed at the Inclusion Art Show in Vancouver on October 10th so if you’re local, it’s a chance to own some of my works.

I can’t believe how busy i’ve been and I wanted to thank everyone for continuing to support me.

“…And it’s preying on my mind

…That there’s nothing left in my hands but time
Time don’t really care if I carry on.”

I have a few things on my mind so I figured it would be important to get it all out in the open.

Sometimes people send me an image pertaining to Autism with the best of intentions and yet the imagery is so widespread that the notion of it being offensive fails to cross the mind of the person sharing it. I do my best to write about these things in my blog but not everyone takes the time to read my articles. 

I was sent an image of hands in a handshake position that had one of the hands being disgustingly adorned by a rainbow of interlocking puzzle pieces with words like “awareness” placed over top of the neutral/skin-toned hand. 

Autism Daily Newscast

Immediately, a wave of frustration with a dash of anger washed over me. I thought I had made it very clear how I felt about these words and images used. I had even posted this image a day prior:

I had responded with a numbered list of how generally we (Autistics) don’t like skin to skin contact, that the puzzle piece is offensive and that we do not need awareness. I also linked an article titled “the ableist history of the puzzle piece”. The response I got surprised me. It was not taken well. I had to explain that Autistic people are generally fact based and that my attempt to educate had no malicious intention.

I can not sit idly by and not say anything- that just isn’t in my nature. 

On another note, I am in the process of updating my sales terms on Etsy in as many places as possible.

I am not sure how many people know about print on demand but it is a service that I utilize for the majority of my offerings.

Here’s how it works:

I upload my artwork to their website and I configure it on a number of products. The website creates a very realistic looking digital mock up of said item. I add the price, edit the description and list it on my Etsy store. The item will say “ships out of the United States” or sometimes China, depending on where it is manufactured. 

I would say that 95% of my customers live in the USA. It didn’t occur to me that “ships out of the United States” is not enough information in regards to duty. 

I purchase a lot of things from online American retailers and I also live near the British Columbia / Washington state border. Duty is something I always consider and take in to account. I have even been sent promotional items for review and had duty slapped on.

I will be adding “This item ships out of the USA. I am not responsible for duties, shipping and exchange rate incurred” on each listing. I have nearly gone through two out of five pages of listings so far. My laptop can’t handle it. 

I also need to express that some people have perhaps attempted to reach out to me through various channels and I am not always quick to respond. This is because I am still going through a lot of personal things and I am doing my best to prioritize. However, I am under a significant amount of stress and I am having a very difficult time viewing things accurately because of how clouded my thought process is. Anxiety is not easy to deal with.

I am doing my very best and trying to cope in a way that I am still able to be productive. I just need a bit of room to breathe. 

Exposing The Aspie World

I am one of those people who seem to have the ability to cut through the drivel that is perpetuated by others.

I saw right through Daniel Jones of The Aspie World. I knew that there was something about him that didn’t sit right with me.

I have created two videos where I react to him. His content is truly repulsive.

1. Sensationalism

His content is chalk full of sensationalism, which is defined as “(especially in journalism) the use of exciting or shocking stories or language at the expense of accuracy, in order to provoke public interest or excitement.”

He uses clickbait titles which plays off the very same theme, essentially taking Autism to a level where it becomes something fresh, new and exciting – at the expense of others. He also pairs up with other YouTube creators who have the same thing in mind. I recently heard that he made a point of insulting “negative” creators at an event tied to the creation of his videos.

2. Self fulfilling prophecy

He creates content to boost his ego. He can’t take critiques from anybody. If you tell him he’s doing something wrong, you’ll be blocked very quickly.

There have been other people in the #ActuallyAutistic community who have called him out and some that have even taken the time to private message him to express their feelings about his content, only for it to fall through the cracks and be disregarded. He has also written a book about a religion (he may or may not) have created and he also promotes his merchandise through his videos.

Edit (July 11th 2019): It’s also alleged that Daniel Jones is even more phoney than he lets on. User “yourfavehatesautismspeaks” on tumblr has added some very interesting talking points to the conversation.

Alex Watts is his producer and “community manager” who decided to send me this on twitter. It’s incredibly unfortunate that they will stoop to tactics like this as a means to communicate with me.

July 12th, still being heckled by Dan Jones “Community Manager”, who fails to uphold himself to any professional standards.

3. Misinformation

If you have the ability to watch my react videos, you’ll notice very quickly that he fails to cite sources for his information. When talking about Aspergers VS Autism, he prefaces it saying that it doesn’t apply to everyone, yet he makes generalizations. Autism absorbed Aspergers in 2015 — Four years before his video came out. He said he will be updating the video, but it’s not like he didn’t have the new information at the time of creation. I also am baffled at a lot of the things he says and he continues to perpetuate his information as fact. It’s not factual. If you can’t cite sources and you can’t show proof to people, you’re only as good as your word.

His videos are presented at different educational events which is a further way to perpetuate fiction.

He has also said that there is a lack of Autistic female youtube creators, which also is not true. Perhaps he said this because he’s not a fan of those who have challenged him and suggested that he change.

Emma Dalmayne created a video back in October of 2018 that I highly suggest you watch.

4. Preaching to Autism Moms

A vast majority of his audience seem to be Autism “Warrior” Moms. These are the type of people who generally won’t listen to #ActuallyAutistic adults in favour of people who are telling them what they want to hear. Daniel Jones has found that they are the perfect audience for him and he uses terms that are generally not well liked by our community like “WITH Autism”, “With Aspergers” — which I find a lot of these parents use. Plenty of them are Autism Speaks supporters as well and won’t hesitate to attach a shiny blue puzzle piece to their social media handles.

In closing:

If you’re not going to listen to the community you supposedly represent and are part of and you continue to promote yourself with the basis of your content being completely untruthful, manufactured, sensationalized and self-gratifying, you’re not helping anyone.

I also believe it’s so important to give a voice to my fellow Autistics and I have done so in this post. It’s not just me who is striving for change and proper representation. IF YOU HAVE AN AUDIENCE, DO SOMETHING GOOD WITH IT!

New Things This Week!

  1. Article Published
  2. New Video

3. Etsy Listing

Ableist art models don’t help us Autistic artists

I wanted to share an article I wrote for THE ART OF AUTISM! Check it out.

Artist Margaux Wosk looks at different art models that actually hurt autistic artists  Ableist art models don’t help us Autistic artists

An Autistics Guide To Corporate Social Responsibility

I want to reiterate that these are my own views and do not necessarily reflect the views of others.

You’ve probably noticed that my blog has critiqued certain sponsorships that I have found troublesome. I wanted to come up with something that would be a good, sharable reference point.

One :: Imagery & Colour Usage

If you want to create a favourable first impression, utilizing a puzzle piece and/or blue immediately raises red flags. Firstly, the image and colour combination evokes negative thoughts of Autism Speaks, which is known for their harmful PSAs, “Cure” culture and questionable distribution of funds. Secondly, The puzzle piece implies that there is something is missing or needs fixing.

Two :: Words/Terminology

When Autism is used as a negative or scare tactic, that is not considered to be favourable.

I  recently read the side of a case of beer and was appalled at the copy.

“Affected by Autism”, “have Autism” and my interaction with their social media team interjected the word awareness in to our conversation twice. I have also noticed that they switch from capitalizing Autism to not capitalizing it. There is no consistency. Other promotions have also used words like “hope” which is demeaning and not at all empowering.

Three :: Transparency

In reference to the case of beer, they mention things like “Autism now affects 1 in 68 children with boys being four times more likely to have autism than girls.  It is the fastest growing developmental disorder with 1% of the world’s population affected by Autism.” without citing any sources. They have also said “…remains dedicated to supporting Autism research in Canada.  Since 2012 more than $600,000 has been raised and donated towards better understanding Autism and how to effectively diagnose and treat the condition.” – this time they have left out exactly WHO is running this research. They have also failed to provide the information of what would be an effective way to diagnose and treat the condition.

Four :: Representation and consultation

When running a promotion: REPRESENTATION matters. Most of the companies I have reached out to have been individuals at the top of the business with an Autistic child. I have had some really negative interactions with affluent parents pledging money to Autism Speaks, business owners who run AUTISM AWARENESS promotions with a portion of the funds going to different organizations and companies running contests where they not only hire a non-Autistic artist, but they utilize the harmful imagery I mentioned in section 1.

If you want to do right by Autistic people, go on to twitter and search #ActuallyAutistic to see the voices of Autistics. You can also look up Neurodiversity and Neurodiversity consulting. You’ll find yourself someone who is incredibly qualified: an Autistic person.

It’s so important to embrace what Autistic people have to offer and this is the proper way of doing so – instead of creating a very offensive campaign.

Five :: Responding to Customer complains

If someone complains to you, instead of explaining yourself immediately, please listen. Please pledge to change and give ways you plan on improving the campaign if you choose to run it again. Understand that yes, if you have an Autistic child that they will grow in to an Autistic adult–We are some of your greatest resources. Don’t talk down to us. Don’t lessen our complaints with ableist speak. Listen. Commit to change.

Six :: Suggestions

A few things a business can do:

Canucks Autism Network

I tried to ignore the negative things they do and the incorrect language they use but I was confronted by them, in person and was completely blindsided that I would be in the same building as them.

I will give you some backstory—I participated in a “Youth with Autism” conference which already was problematic. I don’t believe I was made aware of the events name until late.

I got to the event and saw the Canucks Autism Network setting up their table. My heart sank.

They had plastic bracelets, pins and stickers to give away to the kids. That alone disturbed me: it’s a great way to further their message to unassuming children who don’t see anything else but free stuff. That way, their disgusting puzzle piece logo gets a much further reach. It’s almost like indoctrination.

At that point I started to feel sick and anxious.

I let one of the event coordinators aware of the fact that I was incredibly uncomfortable with them being there. I told her that their logo, the association with Autism Speaks and the use of incorrect language was not okay with me.

She assured me that they wouldn’t come in contact with me. I still didn’t want to be around them and I had a bad foreboding feeling. It lingered and seemed to be warranted.

I have instructions to the kids in the art room for the project I was leading. I saw the two CAN employees making their way in to the room. At this point I started to feel increasingly more uncomfortable. They continued to come closer to me.

Ryan Yao, who I was able to identify through LinkedIn, is the director of strategic partnerships at CAN. He is the one who approached me. I did not want to talk to him at all.

The conversation went something like this:

RYAN- So, you run art workshops?

ME – Well, I haven’t run one before. This is my first.

RYAN – Is this something you plan on continuing?

ME – Maybe next year for this event.

RYAN – Is it something you would be interesting in doing (with us)?

ME – It’s a conflict of interest because you’re associated with autism speaks.

RYAN – Oh, I understand.

Then he walked away.

I was so shaken up and it felt like the conversation lasted forever.

I have called them out multiple times prior to this on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.

I really feel that it was unfair that I was subjected to being in the same place as them. Next time I participate in an event, I am going to make sure I am briefed on every detail possible so it does not happen again.

This is not the first time I have had a problem with the Canucks. Their eyewear sponsor, image optometry insults customers on yelp. It’s happened to me before. It’s incredibly contradictory to support Autistic children and be associated with a company that bullies people and continues to be unethical with their business practices.

To break it down:

1. they use improper language

2. They are associated with Autism Speaks

3. Their puzzle piece logo

4. Their AWARENESS campaign

5. Their blatant disregard for Autistic voices

Something needs to change. It’s very unfortunate that private organizations can regulate themselves. We need more government funding and better, more ethical practices that have Autistic people at the forefront.