I few weeks ago I wrote a post about being on the spectrum pursuing a career in Hollywood – Hollywood on the Autistic Spectrum. It spoke to a lot of people and made me realize that our voices are desperately needed. And so I’ve decided to begin developing a documentary about people on the autistic spectrum working and pursuing the arts, along with those who were talented but never tried.
The ultimate inspiration for this documentary came yesterday, when I wrote a piece about realizing that despite my best efforts, I will not meet or work with an old mentor at this moment in time. It hurt to even write it. While it may have nothing to do with me, I always think it does. I always imagine that it’s my fault because of the way I came across or something. That’s typical for those of us on the spectrum, we constantly replay moments in our head where we know we messed up. Then we try to overcompensate and explain ourselves over and over again– even though we have no evidence that it was our fault. Heck my mentor just doesn’t have any opportunities now and may not feel comfortable having coffee. Maybe he feels like a failure. Maybe he doesn’t know what to say to me. At the very least I’d never judge him a failure. I adore him, and would never say an unkind thing about him.
People on the spectrum always feel like a failure. It’s rare that we have this constant run of success and even where we do succeed we always imagine ourselves screwing it all up again. In the creative fields, where jobs never feel quite secure, that breeds a certain level of anxiety for anyone – even more so for us. It causes self doubt and over-corrections. We always recalculate what we’ve said in our heads, making sure we came out right. We’re always trying to be super logical about an industry which is anything but.
Creative fields are a natural fit for those on the spectrum. We are naturally drawn to forms of creative expression. However the industry which makes these forms of art is very unkind to those on the spectrum by design. It is a very social business where behaving and acting a certain way is expected above all. Towing the line and not stepping out of bounds is essential to success. Except many of those on the spectrum can’t even find the line to begin with. Those who find it often find themselves falling off it.
I can’t begin to tell you how many people I know on the spectrum who won’t even try this industry or try to get their work seen out of fear of rejection. We don’t feel welcome in this business and so many who I know that are on the spectrum aren’t public about it for fear of backlash. For every Tim Burton and Dan Akroyd, there are numerous kids who don’t feel like their vision of the world is worth sharing because they just assume they’ll be pushed aside.
This is a form of diversity that I want to talk about. How can we create a more inclusive environment for those on the spectrum? I want to talk to those who never tried. I want to talk to those like myself who are navigating the complex social politics of the art and film/tv world to the best of our abilities. I also want to talk to those who are successful, and how they managed.
So over the next few months I am going to devote myself to developing a documentary on Autism & the Arts. I want to highlight the problem of why so many brilliant and talented people never try, why many more fail and perhaps glean something from those who are successful. I hope to have help in this endeavor, and so plan to create a site where you can get in touch. In interim, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter if interested in contributing or helping (@LaFemmeDeNY)