As a mother, I will never give up on my child. As a mother of a child who has autism, I will never give up hope.
I look into his eyes and I see all the potential that he has to offer to this beautiful world and I just know that one day the world can see what I see.

Follow my blog as I share my life and my experiences as a person who loves someone with autism.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Artists and Autism

I am a big fan of Artists and Autism, a Facebook Page dedicated to promoting autism awareness through the arts. I love all the artwork that is submitted and the positive energy the group has. I recently had the privilege of interviewing Jeffrey Michael Kellen, the creator of Artists and Autism.

Here’s the interview:

Jeffrey, I'd like to thank you for this opportunity and allowing me to ask you about this page. As a member, I like to think of the page as a community that brings two worlds together, art and autism. What inspired/motivated you to create this group?

Artists and Autism is a group that I started to help promote what I call "autistic positivism," in other words, everything that is good and unique about the disorder of autism. Too many times in the media, even on Facebook, the negative traits are thrust into the spotlight instead of celebrating the wonderful attributes autism can offer our society. Also, another primary motivator for me creating the group was the simple lack of anything like it on the Internet, much less Facebook. I was very shocked that there were no forums at the time for this kind of sharing, so I decided to take the bull by the proverbial horns and create one.

What kind of art is submitted?

I pretty much have seen and have allowed every type of art that is possible on my page. This includes the visual arts, writing, and even musical offerings from time to time. However, by and large, the greatest quantity of submissions usually come in the form of paintings, drawings, and photographs followed by poetry of many different types.

Artists and Autism submission
Artists and Autism submission: Abstract Mind by Wlo

Artists and Autism submission
Artists and Autism submission: Elisa

Artists and Autism submission
Artists and Autism submission: ‘Sensory Overload’ by Katie

Now with over 6,000 members, what are you hoping to accomplish with the Artist and Autism Facebook Page? What do you see for this group in the future?

As A and A [Artists and Autism] continues to grow, there are nearly limitless possibilities for where the group could go. There have been many conversations about offering the artists a venue for selling their work or even producing a book form of the group. There have even been calls to create t-shirts and bumper stickers to help share awareness. However, the main goal is and always will be to celebrate the autistic diversity that exists through the arts.

Jeffrey, thank you again for taking the time to respond to my questions. I wish nothing but success for Artists and Autism Facebook Page. Is their anything else you’d like to add?

I'd like to thank my team of moderators who have helped to keep A and A [Artists and Autism] a safe and bully-free environment for all to enjoy: Jen Hayes, Jackie O'Reilley, Lisa Ligon, for a brief time, Debbie Hosseini, and last but not least, my wonderful wife, Kara Stewart Kellen.

I also have a few favorite websites [Facebook Pages], including your own wonderful site, that are listed on the A and A [Artists and Autism] webpage that we like to help promote, as well.

ArtSync Magazine A quarterly publication that features up-and-coming artists of all genres and is directed toward artists of all types and skill levels, art lovers, and those with a casual interest in the arts throughout North Carolina.

ASD Support Network This page is for all those affected by Autistic Spectrum Disorder and their families and friends. Our aim is to raise awareness for Autism and in sharing our stories and ideas help support each other.

Aspergers Support Network A page connecting people with Aspergers.

Autism Creations Making and sharing tags and snags. A great way to spread autism awareness.

Bubbles Make Him Smile The Official Facebook Page for

Jordan Lake School of Arts A private K-12 school with a nature and arts based hands on experiential educational program specializing in children with ASD and out of the box thinkers.

I also asked the members of Artists and Autism to tell me their thoughts about the page. Here's what people are saying about the group:

“I say its fab” -Tracy

“This page is brill. I have aspergers syndrome myself.” Lisa

“I LOVE IT!!!! its the best place in my opinion to show off your kids or your own art! plus i have made some wonderful friends from this group who has helpd me out alot.” Misty

“It offers a safe platform for those who have 'little voice' (shy away from society), to show work that would otherwise might never be seen.. it opens up a door to a friendly, new generation of people/thinkers, who live parallel lives who thought they were alone.. it offers a new tool of building self confidence, that I hope they can take with them into their own environment and know they are 'special' without the word 'needs'. It opens the eyes of others that have been blinkered by myths.. and helps raise awareness on a level that many can understand, regardless of their circumstances, environment or culture. :)” Jackie

“I posted my grandson's Tylers painting the show of affection and love was overwhelming..We printed the page to add to his book so he could see the love there is in the world. I so enjoy the art and poems. I am so happy to have found the page.” Carleen

“i am diagnosed with classic/moderate autism. i find this page very supportive of those who have autism and like to express our feelings whatever they may be. this page serves as an outlet not only to express our feelings but so that others can truly have a grasp at what autism is like for us and what it truly means through our own expressive work.” Melody

Whether you have a passion for art, or love someone with autism, you will agree, this group brings two worlds together, creating a beautiful duet. I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this blog. You are who make this group as successful as it. Thank you again, Jeffrey, for your time and for creating this inspiring group.

Thanks for reading,

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