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

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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.