People of Georgian: Student uses painting to share autism journey

What’s your story?

The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Emily Slaght

I created the Spectrum series, which is about the struggles I faced as a very young child not recognizing or having the full awareness of the spectrum disorder.

A person with brown hair tied back, bangs, glasses, face mask, brown striped sweater and blue jeans, looks at the camera while standing in front of 10 colourful paintings hung on a wall.

It’s mostly the reflection of what I faced and struggled with as a child, especially in the education system. I had the minimum support.

It’s basically an emotional and mental journey of my disorder, and others’ journeys of symptoms people have faced.

The reason I created these androgynous creatures in the art is because I feel it affects everyone, especially when it comes to gender and people of colour.

‘You can get autism whether you’re Black or white, male or female, or in between.’

In my opinion, people don’t realize the diagnosis system is very gender biased and racial biased, as if only white, cisgender men get diagnosed with autism, which is not true.

Everybody gets it. You can get autism whether you’re Black or white, male or female, or in between.

It’s important to challenge the world on what we’re able to do.

Autism is not a disease. It is a disorder, but we live everyday lives and conquer challenges, so it’s really important for people to recognize that.

I’ve recognized more of my disorder recently, especially at the beginning of the pandemic.

I’ve faced more burnouts and more sensory overloads and stimming and masking.

“It’s important to challenge the world on what we’re able to do.”

Emily Slaght

I get sensory overload, for example, every time I socialize with people in a very crowded area. Afterward I feel mentally and physically exhausted.

Masking is one of the more personal behaviours, and repetitive motion is what I’ve experienced the most with me.

For instance, if it’s a TV series or a celebrity I was really interested in, I would have this fixated interest and talk to everybody about it.

A painting of ghosts floating down a sidewalk in a city, and all of them are wearing face masks.
Ghost town, 2022, by Emily Slaght.

It’s very interesting to take in my experience with this disorder and incorporate it into my artwork.

Emily Slaght, a student graduating from Georgian’s Fine Arts program this June. Check out more of their art on Instagram.

See it in person at the MacLaren Art Centre in Barrie as part of the Transformation Sequence exhibition by Georgian students until May 22.

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