Created by members of Autism Home Base (AHB), this exhibition brings together a selection of work centered on the theme of connection through shared interests and experiences. ABH is a social network for adults on the autism spectrum, which aims to empower adults with autism and their families to lead rich, active lives, and is committed to providing support and inclusion across the autism spectrum. The self-expression and generous reflection of identity in this exhibition demonstrate the pride and complexity of lived autism experiences. Each work is an opportunity to connect and to build understanding across difference. Taken together, the works illustrate the diversity and beauty of the neurodivergent perspectives that enrich our communities. The exhibition says: what makes us unique also unites us. While stereotypes divide, genuine connection brings us together.
AHB Member Hannah Warner was invited to contribute to this introduction. What follows is her reflection on the project:
“The AHB Hub is a non-judgmental space which facilitates opportunities for discovery, socialization, and recreation, all within a safe and structured environment. This is important because many of us on the spectrum struggle with initiating our own opportunities and/or relationships. At the hub, shared experiences become a foundation for inclusiveness and compassionate expectations. It is a refuge where we can be ourselves without constant reminders that we are different.
Autism is complicated. Every one of us experiences autism differently, but the way others treat us because of it is pretty common. I have felt overwhelmed and isolated in the neurotypical world. However, I still wouldn’t want to be ‘normal.’ Instead, I cherish the beauty and inspiration my autistic brain finds in the world and its ability to recognize the things I am passionate about. Sadly, our interests are often used to alienate us. When it comes to autism, many people see us only as a caricature, assuming our special interests are the only thing there is to know about us. They read our enthusiasm and eagerness to share information as something to avoid. Misrepresenting the experiences that we live for as eccentric obsessions is a stereotype that undermines a great potential for recognizing that humanity is complicated and that there are more similarities than differences between us.
Each member of AHB is multifaceted and multidimensional. Like anyone else, we have interests and hobbies, hopes and fears. Our hearts are just as big as our brains and worth getting to know. Our feelings are visceral and sometimes insuppressible, similar
to your own. Look carefully and I am sure you will find yourself reflected in some way. So please enjoy this exhibit. Find out a little about a stranger; discover a little about yourself.”
– Hannah Warner, Member of Autism Home Base
Thank you to all of the AHB members who took part in this exhibition and shared their stories. Our gratitude also goes out to Hailey Yates (art instructor), Rachel Major (program support), and Tristin Haines (blueburnmedia.ca) who edited the art-making video.