By Debra Hosseini —
The journey between what you once were and who you are now becoming is where the dance of life really takes place. —Barbara DeAngelis
In this first edition of the Human Spectrum Magazine, I’d like to introduce myself as a female on the Human Spectrum - a collector of autistic art, poetry and stories I share in books, blogs, and galleries. I am also the mom of an autistic child named Kevin.
I see the autism spectrum as a collective shadow of the Human Spectrum. The reason why is that too many of us focus on the deficits of the so-called ‘disorder’ while minimizing the creative potential - which is, by the way, in the process of exploding before our eyes.
The use of the term ‘spectrum’ takes us out of the preconceived box of what it is to be autistic. As white light, when broadcast through a prism, displays all the colors of the rainbow, so too the autism spectrum can unfold into its panoply of possibilities.
The reclassification of ‘autism’ to ‘autism spectrum’ in the DSM-V encourages us to look through a wider lens. I envision this lens continuing to broaden until society eventually will embrace those on the autism spectrum where they’ll no longer be viewed as people with or without a ‘disorder.’ (Having said this – I realize there are many problems with the DSM-V classification which will be discussed in the next issue of the Human Spectrum Magazine).
In my writing and art shows, I endeavor to capture the heart and imagination of the viewer.
Take Ricky Nesbitt for example. Ricky, who resides in a group home in New York, lives in a world without sound or words. At age thirty-two, Ricky emerged out of his silence, painting his truth within round circles the size of tea cups. One day he broke out of his circle-world and started to paint on bigger rectangular canvases that continued to grow until he had created a piece of art which was a whopping 220 feet in length. Then he scaled back and refined his skills photographing his plastic animal collection with a backdrop of color fields he created.
Where will Ricky go from here?
The beauty is in the mystery of the unknown. Ricky at age thirty-two was able to merge his self-contained world with others on this Human Spectrum. The unexpected brilliance of the creative process can be sparked in anyone at any time, no matter what limitations they may have. I receive stories regularly of people who have remarkable breakthroughs in their twenties, thirties, and beyond.
Already autism has begun its movement out of the shadows into the light. I see parents, caregivers, and supporters who’ve embraced this journey and are evolving through their children who teach them that norms and developmental expectations are to be challenged.
In my own life, Kevin often surprises me with flashes of profound insight and an evolved understanding about things I take for granted. I walk with Kevin daily and try to appreciate his sensibilities about this confusing and often overwhelming world. With all his perceived limitations, Kevin conforms to our worldview more readily than most of us could conform to his. I’m waiting for the day when others will take that magical leap that I have taken and tap into the light of Kevin’s spectrum.
Debra Hosseini is parent of three children. Kevin, her youngest, is on the autism spectrum. Debra is the author of two books “Artism: The Art of Autism – Shattering Myths about People Living on the Spectrum,” and the soon to be released book “The Art of Autism: Shifting Perceptions.” She is partner with Keri Bowers in The Art of Autism collaborative – www.the-art-of-autism.com