Art is a means of self-expression, allowing one an outlet through which to project their personal perspective of the world. Whether through prose and poetry, dance or music, it is a means of making tangible the intangible; our beliefs, observations, thoughts, and desires. And through art, we cast a net into the world, both to cope with our place in it and in the hope of establishing connection and assure ourselves that we are, in fact, not alone in our feelings.
For children and adults with autism, the ability to observe, process, and even inhabit the world surrounding them can seem daunting. Stimulation is necessary for life to blossom, but in some situations can become overwhelming for those on the spectrum, and sensory over-stimulation can drive and shape autistic behavior. So it only seems natural to seek out a means for interpreting the world in a way which can not only suppress stimulation to acceptable levels , but can also bring those with autism into a more connected world.
Leironica Hawkins is one such child with autism, facing the challenges of over-stimulation every day. Sounds, smells, and social encounters can create difficulty for Leironica to concentrate, interrupting her thought process and ability to function calmly for fear of her frustration leading to potential panic. Autism is, in Leironica’s words, an ‘invisible disability,’ attempting to inhibit her life with no overt signs of affliction.
As such, Leironica has discovered a worthwhile outlet in art, rendering the invisible presence of autism through a series of illustrated comics to capture and express the trepidation she faces daily both in her personal and professional life. This allows Leironica a means of taking her autism and her perspective on it and depicting them in a clear and concise manner, partaking in the venture of connection that all artists do.
The world can be a rather unforgiving place for those on the spectrum, certainly. But for those like Leironica, it’s clear that the natural benefits of art transcend any possible stigma, allowing her to be as expressive, vulnerable and engaging as she chooses. Her art, beautifully composed and deeply personal, sends a clear depiction of her life with autism and provides her with a cathartic practice through which she can portray her daily existence to possibly connect not only with those also on the spectrum, but with everyone; a fitting testament to the power of art.
A series of Leironica’s comics can be found here.