Dedication: to all the little awkward girls who always felt different

I always knew something was “wrong” or as i perfer to say “different” but i didnt know what, and nobody else did either, including my parent, family and educators. i didn’t speak much people would say hello to me and i would ignore them or just turn away i would go sit in the corner and draw for hours because it was a easier way for me to communicate then speaking, people would ask ‘whats wrong with her” most of the time i would just be called , crazy, moody or shy, or she’s just a brat but i was far from any of those things, i had anxiety but none of us knew what it was as the time and also i was autistic which no one knew either, art has always been my escape, drawing , painting, theater, dance etc it was my communication tool it was a place for my emotions when they didn’t fit anywhere else, i did not have a lot of friends & i was bullied most of the time i didn’t understand that i was being teased or tormented i just felt like i was being treated different.when i did plays as a child i would always get the role the auditioned for, and sometimes that meant a friend who auditioned for the same part would stop speaking to me, call me names get others to stop speaking to me as well, many don’t feel people with autism are worthy of living their dreams i think hollywoodbroadway and even smaller theater groups have a horrible representation for autistic actors models etc there plenty of autistic performers capable of playing autistic and non autistic roles but they won’t be cast but they will easily cast a non autistic person to play a autistic person, or a non disabled person to play a character with some other type pf disability to play a role before even looking within the community, i had a late diagnosis i believe part of that was because there is a myth that black girls don’t have autism so if something was noticed the would never be something they would think to test me for, when i was diagnosed it hadn’t been the first time i had heard i could possibly be on the spectrum my therapist years before had mentioned that i seemed like i could be on the spectrum but never did anything about never took any further steps to help with getting some answers, when my team of doctors sat down to discuss it with me they were asking me had anyone ever mentioned to me that i may be on spectrum, i was hospitalized at the time so that is where my evaluation was done at, it took hours i couldn’t focus or sit still and i was getting aggravated we took several breaks and they were very understanding. none of my test results were a surprise to me it was hard to accept but it was also a huge weight off my shoulders, i just wasn’t “crazy” there was a reason i am the way i am theres a reason i struggle to communicate have sensory issues, have non verbal periods etc it gave me a better understanding of myself. Learning that i was autistic changed my life because i could now teach people how to and not to treat/deal with me i could now handle situations better because i was aware of the reason my mind reacts to situations and information the way it does, i understood that i was not having tantrums i was having autistic meltdowns, i understood was having shutdowns i was experiencing autistic burnouts, ways it not change me, my character my heart my outlook on life all still the same i was still the same inside i was still me i just now knew what I’ve delt with my entire life was. common misconceptions that i have seen a lot again are that black people do not get autism, that people with autism are stupid, that people with autism have no empathy which in my case is false I’m not stupid although i may things explained to me in a different way then it could be explained to a non autistic person and I’m also very empathetic, i this everyone has felt with others not believeing in them I’ve felt with this but the people who don’t believe in me do not matter to me because those who really care about you and value their relationship with you will believe in you and your dreams. i live with autism i do not suffer from it I’m a naturally happy person and no matter what is gonna on I’m going to smile I’m going to laugh and I’m going to be grateful, it could always be so much worse, like many people living with autism, i do experience seizures but even with that i am not suffering its hard its dangerous and it has caused lingering damage, but I’m not suffering I’m just living differently.ivehad over 115 seizures july of last year was my worst experience with them, they caused the most lasting damage they were the most violent, i they were the hardest to wake up from, i experienced memory loss which i still deal with, and my speak was effected but I’m working toward getting it back to where i started, the types of seizures I’ve had are grand mal seizures I’m on medication but for some reason it stopped working for awhile and even when I’m doing really good one will slip through here and there right now I’m experiencing a lot of episodes but we haven’t figured out why yet, i take 26 pills a day down from 33 so i feel like thats an improvement so for me thats a win, when i draw/paint/design i don’t only create things with autism in mind I’ve made awareness art for breast cancer and other illnesses as well ,then we had a surge in police killings or when they were just more publisized and more awareness came to the issue with cases like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd i made pieces in tribute to them and to raise awareness and show my support and honor there lives, that is the way i knew how to express what i was felling about the issues and didn’t know another way to communicate it. i hope others know that staying positive helps A LOT you may be living with challenges but that doesn’t mean you still can’t be blessed i am very blessed, i always want those living with autism, or any other challenge to know that they should never put limitations on themselves and they should definitely not let others put limitations on them because God puts no limitations on you. if you have a dream and that passion is there you can do it, some days will be really hard but others will be really great, i choose to focus on the really great, if had to give advice to others with similar or any challenges it would be just that focus on the really great, everyday will not be wonderful but we have the next coming day for another chance at happiness another day at joy another day to fight again, even though it may get extremely hard never give up know that the pain won’t last forever and hold on, forget all the rules written for people with autism and live your life the way your heart desires for you to live it, don’t accept something is ‘wrong’ just know that you are different and different is beautiful different is special , my relationship with my family and friends varies depending on who it is, i don’t have a lot of friends but the ones i do have are very understanding they understand sometimes i need my space but also sometimes i may be a little needy and need extra support, they know what my interest are and we do things i like doing they understand that somethings i just cannot do because of my health and they understand that, i have a lot of family a lot of cousins my cousins are very protective of me, even the younger ones, i think they are still learning about autism so their understanding me better but they have never treated me different because this is how they’ve always known me, they understand as well that i just can’t do everything they can sometimes it makes me sad or i feel alone but I’m used to it. as weird as it sounds even though i don’t always understand why things happen the way they do as far as my health and challenges but i still never question God i just trust him, that works for me

Photographers : James Davis & K Mhurray
Socia media
Instagram @phenomenallyautistic ( you may take any photos from here artwork included in story highlights as well )
Photo credit: Image provided by the storyteller.


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Ayanna aka Phenomenally Autistic

Meet Ayanna aka Phenomenallyautistic ayanna is an autism advocate advocating for black & brown autistics to gain proper resources & visibility born & raised in westchester county New York along with being autistic she has survived over 300 seizures lives with Chronic illnesses has 4 autoimmune diseases , but she doesn’t let that stop her from spreading her messages of self love, joy, equality,diversity,inclusion & autism acceptance through the Arts 💜 Autism Advocate 💜 Children’s Book Illustrator 🥰 - 19 books to date! Creator of 4 coloring books for girls of color Latest ‘We Are Magical’ available on Amazon Designer ( kids customs ) - Harlem week, wbls Circle of Sisters, WPIX 11 morning news, Talijah Waahid World Natural Hair Show, Lover of all Performing Arts Theater kid 🎭 Honored at the United Nations Was given a proclamation making April 26th Ayannas day in westchester county New York Former choreographer - work seen on BET, ABC family, Maury Povich Show, The Apollo Theater - trained over 100 students Dreamer 💫