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Home » Autism Interview #212: Ayanna Davis [PhenomonallyAutistic] on Art, Race, and Autism Advocacy

Autism Interview #212: Ayanna Davis [PhenomonallyAutistic] on Art, Race, and Autism Advocacy

Autism Interview #212: Ayanna Davis [PhenomonallyAutistic] on Art, Race, and Autism Advocacy

Ayanna Davis is an autism advocate from New York advocating for proper resources & visibility for black Autistic women. Along with being Autistic, she has survived over 300 seizures, lives with Chronic illnesses, has 5 autoimmune diseases, and spreads her messages of self love, joy, equality, diversity,inclusion and autism acceptance through the Arts.

Tell me about your art. What kinds of art do you enjoy and how have you been able to develop art skills?

I do all types of art: dance, theater, but my main form of art is book illustrations. I developed my skills from childhood when art became my escape when the world became overwhelming for me. When my autism caused me to hide from the world, I ran to art, and it was my safe place, and in that safe place, my skills developed.

When did you first become involved in public advocacy? Who were/are your
allies?

I became involved in public advocacy in 2020. My allies are other members of the autism community. I’m actually very blessed–I also have allies from other communities as well to help spread my message and stand behind me in my advocacy.

You mentioned in an interview that after your diagnosis, you were able to be
your “true self.” How did you act differently and what did this feel like?

After my diagnosis, I was able to be my true self, because I now knew what that was, I now knew why I thought the way I thought, processed information way I did, interacted with others the way I did, and even why I couldn’t interact with others. Since I knew all these things, I could do something about it and learn coping skills. I used to always hear, “Whats wrong with her?” Now I had a answer for that question: “There is nothing wrong with me. I’m autistic.”

Tell me about your book I’m Autistic & I’m Phenomenal. What was the process
like creating it and what do you hope readers gain by reading it?

I looked back at myself as a little black autistic girl and did my best to describe how I viewed the world, how the world affected me, and what it was like to navigate the world. Creating the images was, of course, my favorite part, and I actually created the illustrations before the text, which some might call backwards, but it worked for me. What I hope readers gain from my book is that while autism is challenging and it’s not always fun, there is a good side, and we have our autistic joys. We have strong points and everyone can learn something from us if you get to know us and give us a chance.

Comment on society’s understanding/acceptance of you as an Autistic Black person. In other words, in what ways are you embraced in your community or society at large and in what ways are you misunderstood or ignored?

I feel Black Autistic women are just now being embraced because more black women are starting be diagnosed. For so long, black women were being misdiagnosed, late diagnosed, or not diagnosed at all. So as diagnoses become more common, I feel society will become more accepting and the stigma can be removed about black women being just angry (in fact, we can be neurodivergent). I feel that’s where the misunderstanding comes–in the stereotype of the angry, black woman, when, in fact, we were neurodivergent. I have heard this about myself because I can come off as standoffish when I’m feeling overstimulated, which can translate into being unfriendly, which can translate into angry. But I was none of that the entire time, I was just autistic.

Do you have any good book or blog recommendations, people to follow on social media, or any other resources for individuals interested in supporting positive change for the Black Autistic community?

I can recommend thekishaproject.com it was founded in 2008 and shows support for families of autistic children to bring awareness to the social issues that impact the Black community you can find her on instagram at @panamakish.

The post Autism Interview #212: Ayanna Davis [PhenomonallyAutistic] on Art, Race, and Autism Advocacy appeared first on Learn From Autistics.

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