Hillary Krzywkoski: Different, Not Less

I am an emerging writer and artist with a story to tell about my autistic family’s past struggles. My husband and I have faced adversity when in the formative years of building our family, beginning with our marriage and the conception and birth of our first child, marking a years long struggle for parental autonomy, free from bullying and abuse. I have sought healing through my art and writing this last decade, and have entered my narrative into public discourse via the arts. I have been fortunate to have my work circulated recently at the 2017 Ruderman Foundation Inclusion Summit. I am speaking out against abuse of autistic mothers and fathers. Much of the abuse begins on the home front– through our extended familial relationships, to be recognized and respected as a competent and worthy parent, to be allowed to be fertile and strong, to be allowed a legacy. I am speaking out against the abuse of autistic mothers by midwives, OB/GYNs, and other birth workers. Below is the work that was on display at the Inclusion Summit through The Mighty:

These ancestral totem-inspired paintings process my traumatic initiation into parenthood as a disabled Israeli immigrant and abuses during pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and the formative years of parenting autistic children in a culture which assesses autism to be a scourge. I’m visually articulating the chronic, systemic abuses that the majority of Autistic mothers and fathers live with– in the United States, Israel, and elsewhere. I’m seeking a safe space for my family’s unique identities, abilities and neurotype within society where we can also find respect as autistic Jews.

The phrase, “Different, not less” must be applied intersectionally to Autistic gender, sexuality and courtship, fertility, family structure and dynamic, where autistic parents and their autistic children have every right to self-determination, self-exploration, and the fulfillment of a loving and nurturing family life in the pursuit of health and happiness with autonomy and dignity.

“The Burden” :

Utilizing the tarot card format and lyrics from The Carter Family, this text-heavy painting depicts the abuse, bullying, and slander of my young family in our immigrant community following the conception and birth of our first born, and the crisis of having to escape in a short period of time.
The Burden

“Our Spilled Blood Sprouts Flowers”

Near death, hospitalization, and continued attempts to separate us have not broken my bond with my child. In spite of harsh circumstances, flowers bloom from our suffering. Now in safety, the trauma transforms into strength and meaning— a blessing.

Our Spilled Blood Sprouts Flowers

“This Too Shall Pass”

A trauma process piece and a search for inner strength. I paint myself a mother wolf, a protector, stronger than the assassin who pecks and tears at my hide, who’s not able to reach my children who hide beneath my underbelly. The surrounding lunar cycle teaches that there is balance to life and these terrible circumstances cannot endure.

This Too Shall Pass

I hope this can reach other autistic parents and mothers, and make a contribution to what I am learning is a rich history. I hope to contribute to the public understanding that we too are worthy of good lives, full of meaning and purpose.
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The History of My Autism

The History of My Autism

by Christy Walk

Originally posted at https://christyautisticwalk.wordpress.com/2016/10/27/the-history-of-my-autism/


 

Hi, my name is Christy. I am an autistic adult, and I turned 29 years old in August. I am going to tell you my autistic history.

My story opened on October 12, 1987. I became very sick with menengitis. I have heard of many people that died from it. I had to go to the hospital to get some medicine for it. That day, on October 12, 1987, I was diagnosed with autism. I didn’t know I was autistic until I was in sixth grade.

In seventh grade, I went to see a therapist who introduced me to Donna Williams’ books. She read to me pages of a book called Nobody Nowhere. I was really fascinated with that book. I really liked it and I want to get it one day. I was intrigued by Donna’s story, and loved learning about her. I have seen her brilliant artwork and read her awesome poetry. She is a really awesome author, poet and artist.

In high school, I participated in Special Education classes for three and a half years and went on the disability school bus. I really enjoyed going to restaurants and swimming at Aquabilities. The worst part about it was the way my Special Ed teachers acted towards me. I hated that they rolled their eyes at me and yelled at me everytime I made a mistake.

I attended speech class every year as a student of my school that I went to. I usually attended speech class alone, with a friend, or with my Special Ed classmates. I attended IEP meetings in middle and high school. In speech class I was scolded for being late which I didn’t like at all. I was not happy about that because I don’t like being scolded in the first place.

My mom signed me up for SSI and got me health insurance through Gateway in 2005. I got denied several times for health insurance, but then Gateway accepted me. I’m glad that they accepted me, because none of the others really wanted to bother anyway.

In 2006, I graduated from high school. I was really glad to get out of there because I was always so tired after school, that I fell asleep in my bedroom. I lived with my grandmother from then at the time of her death in 2011. My grandmother and I used to go on trips, eat out at restaurants like O’Grady’s and Route 61 Diner (my personal favorite), and shopping at Big Lots. In 2010, she and I moved back to my hometown. I liked where she and I used to live because the pine smell was always in the house. It always smelled like pine whenever I was there. When she went into the hospital in 2011, I went to my mom and stepdad’s house to live there.

In 2012, I joined the choir at Grace Bible Fellowship Church, and it was a lot of fun the first year that I was in it. I have been attending GBFC since 2010, and it’s such a good church. The pastor is accepting of me, and so are my fellow choir members and fellow members of my congregation. They are a great group of people and I love them dearly.