How To Be Autistic by Charlotte Amelia Poe, the winner of the Spectrum Art Prize 2018, presents the rarely shown point of view of someone living with autism.
Charlotte’s work challenges narratives of autism as something to be ‘fixed’. She writes: ‘I wanted to show the side of autism that I have lived through, the side you don’t find in books and on Facebook groups. My piece is a story about survival, fear and, finally, hope. It is an open letter to every autistic person who has suffered the verbal, mental or physical abuse and come out snarling and alive.’
‘If I can change just one person’s perceptions, if I can help one person with autism feel like they’re less alone, then this will all be worth it. So please, turn the page. Our worlds are about to collide.’
How To Be Autistic charts Charlotte’s journey through schooldays and young adulthood, with chapters on food, fandom, depression, body piercing, cats, vomiting, comic conventions, and technology. She acknowledges the role her parents have played in supporting her throughout, but believes her autism is a fundamental aspect of her identity and art.
‘The best way to describe it is to imagine a road trip. If a neurotypical person wants to get from A to B, then they will most often find their way unobstructed, without road works or diversions. For an autistic person, they will find that they are having to use back roads and cut across fields and explore places neurotypicals would never even imagine visiting’.
‘Charlotte shows us both the desperate and bleak angle to autism, as well as the beautiful side.’ Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Spectrum Art Prize judge
Charlotte Amelia Poe is a self-taught artist and writer from Suffolk. She also works with video, and won the inaugural Spectrum Art Prize with the film she submitted, ‘How To Be Autistic’.
Myriad Publishing Director, Candida Lacey, bought world rights from the author after Myriad Creative Director Corinne Pearlman was introduced to Poe’s work by prize judges Spectrum charity chief executive, Mary Simpson, and curator Sacha Craddock. Myriad will publish in September 2019.
Lacey says ‘Our mission is to make the personal political. Like Mike Barnes’s Be With, which we will publish in February, and Sohaila Abdulali’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape, both of which unfold a side of their subject matter almost entirely missing from public discussion, Poe’s autobiography gives us a unique insight into autism from the other side.’