Our goal is to help TPGA readers understand that autistic people are people who have interesting, complicated lives and who are as diverse and varied as any other population united by a label.
We are the people in each other's neighborhoods, and the more we know about each other -- the more visible autistic people and children are -- the more common autism acceptance will be. That is our hope.
Today we're talking with children's book illustrator Emma Apple, who also runs the collaborative blog Muslimas Oasis.
What is your name?
I go by Emma Apple, which is a childhood nickname and now a professional pen name.
Do you have a website?
My personal site is www.EmmaApple.com and then I run a collaborative blog www.muslimasoasis.com (which covers quite a few topics but goes under the slogan 'The Muslim Mother & Child Blog' for now).
What would you like a one-sentence description of yourself to say?
I find it hard to put myself into a sentence that isn't a basic description 'Kiwi Muslim Artist and Designer' but some words that come to mind: Internal, Composed, Observer, Content, Passionate, Sure but Hesitant. She of many bees in her bonnet.
Do you have any autistic superpowers? What are they?
A sense of direction that has been compared to a cat. I have a mental google street view of almost everywhere I've been (though it's not flawless and seems glitchy when I'm in a different vehicle so seeing the world from a different angle). I don't react strongly to anything (never have) and so don't outwardly over-react. I have an impossible to shake 'what will be will be and why should I worry?' attitude which could get me in trouble some day (and should have already). I have a fantastic sense of humor -- I think, anyway. A good memory. I think my difference-of-thought and ability to learn is what allows me to be successful with my art even though I failed miserably at Art at school -- and didn't finish high school.
What are some situations that make you happy, or satisfied?
Being with my family in nature. Being near the ocean. Time alone to draw or contemplate or just be generally creative. Time with my family when everyone is content. Talking to my Mum, Sisters, Cousin and Nephews. When things are organized. Re-organizing furniture. A phone number with a nice pattern or tune makes me very happy. My kids. My husband. The sound of a train whistle when I'm going to sleep. Thunderstorms. I love to people watch and make up stories or wonder about what their stories are, where they are going, what are they thinking, what's going on in their lives that is monumental right now. Stones and Rocks make me irrationally happy. I have a great fascination and find great enjoyment in puns, idioms and aptronyms (that is, names that match professions). I love word play in general and find great amusement in it.
What are some situations that make you sad, or anxious?
When other people are unhappy or hurting. When I meet with people (non family) I get very anxious, even if I enjoy their company or want to see them. Though I've gotten a lot better since having kids, because I have a purpose for meeting with people -- the kids. The dark, closed doors, insects, dogs, strangers all make me nervous. Vehicles and roads make me nervous -- though I've gotten better in this respect since having kids, because I now have a purpose -- teaching them road safety.
What are your preferred ways to be social?
Online. Not at home. With people I can talk easily with, I don't like trying to find things to talk about. I don't 'be social' very often (aside from online where I'm very social!), so, I'm not sure, does people watching count? Haha! I do enjoy people, I just find them a bit difficult in large amounts.
What traits do you prize in a friend, or companion?
People who don't expect too much from me, people who are comfortable in 'awkward silences,' people who I have something in common with. People who aren't too emotional or reactive. People who have a sense of humor. People who don't make light of negative things about you or others.
Are there parts of your life you wish were easier?
I'm fairly content with the world. I do wish I didn't have such an aversion to sound (I have to tolerate the oven fan when I cook, the air conditioner in summer, the neighbors air conditioner in summer, the blender is painful -- but I'm not afraid to use it anymore! -- and the dryer gives me a migraine every time I run it.) I wish I had more friends. I wish I was better at keeping the world clean and organized.
What's the next big goal you have for yourself?
To illustrate more children's books (and finish the ones I'm working on currently) and to write more often. Also to read books more often.
What does bliss feel like to you?
Bliss is quiet, colorful and patterned, organized, close to my family, everyone happy. Prayer and contemplation.