Deborah's Story

Emily Griffiths

Date: 03/03/22

Deborah is an artist-in-residence at Portfield School, inspiring students to explore their creative side.

While officially diagnosed at 41, she knew she was autistic a long time before that, with the diagnosis creating just as many questions as it answered.

Discussing what autism means to her, she says, ‘It means everything and nothing all at the same time, and it depends what day it is and who I’m with.’

On what’s important to her, she cites her creativity, ability to focus, and visual and sensorial way of thinking and seeing the world. She views all of the traits as a real positive, giving her the ability to immerse in creativity and hyper focus, which she accredits to her being autistic.

As a mother of four, her days can be quite hectic. Deborah’s biggest challenge comes from organising herself, and her children – this means having to put other people first, which can make it difficult when things get overwhelming outside of the home. Particularly, when going out and about and visiting new places, planning things out and thinking of strategies become even more important, for both herself and her children.

However, when she’s inside her home, with safe spaces, routines, and things she enjoys doing, it’s not so much of an issue. She has her own studio where she can work in, providing a space and time to focus and process things, and an amazing support system of family and friends.

She loves reading and working in her studio, often using recycled materials to create different things.

‘There’s always something quite magical that happens when you take something and turn it into something else.’

She does admit that it’s easy as an artist, saying, ‘you can be quirky, you can be different, you’re expected to think differently and look different…And I’ve always been really, really happy with, I’m really comfortable with other creative people.’

She describes herself as very creative, eccentric, positive, keen to learn, and curious.

‘I’m really curious, very curious person and I’m curious about other people and I’m curious about the art world and I am curious about autism, but not the word or the medical definition – other people that are like me, that’s what I’m interested in.’

‘Be curious…There’s more to autism than you think.’

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