Life on a Spectrum

By Mahlia Amatina

After being diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome in 2015, I was inspired to share the unique sensory experiences of life on the autism spectrum through my art. Working around the theme of neurodiversity, I transformed my signature style of abstract colourism into a unique, interactive, multi-sensory experience that invites viewers to engage on a level that works for them.

I’ve been awarded Arts Council England funding, including the ‘Developing your Creative Practise’ grant, and featured as one of the ‘Top 50 Influential Neurodiverse Women’ by Women Beyond the Box. You can read more about me here.

I am also on TwitterInstagram and Facebook if you’d like to see my latest work.

To explore the various collections that make up this online exhibition experience, please click on the following links:

There is a Q&A with Mahlia at 11am on Sat 13 March. Click here for more information

As well as sharing my artwork with you, I want to hear your thoughts on various traits that those on the spectrum can experience. These are universal traits that anyone can experience, so this exercise if for anyone to partake in. Please read through the examples below and send any responses to the questions (either in writing, picture format, video or sound note) via email to

I will anonymously share these on social media to help build a dialogue around neurodiversity, and to use these responses to inform future art work.

Thank you and I look forward to receiving your responses!


I feel anxious when I’m on the bus. I manage this with my ‘survival kit’ – my large eskimo hood, headphones, a good playlist and dark sunglasses. 

“My muscles tense. What if it doesn’t work? What will I do and how will I cope…?”

What makes you feel anxious and how does it make you feel?

Struc|ture and Routine

Structure is a (non-negotiable) essential part of each day. What I wear, eat, do – and how – is all planned out in extensive detail. No unknowns go unturned. 

“Structure is logical and safe. It’s like a beacon of light that guides and gives me time and place.”

How is structure important to you, and how do you feel when there is no order and routine in your life? 

Unique Per|spec¦tive

I notice details that others miss and find it easy to come up with new ideas and alternate possibilities – on things that I care and am passionate about. This is something that comes very naturally to me. 

“Like another beat working creatively between the normal rhythm of life”.

How do you feel you have a unique perspective in life?

Sen|sory Issues

A shopping centre or an airport sends me into sensory overdrive. The noise, the lights; its intensity and flashing. The stuffiness. I cope by walking (very) swiftly through duty free; breathing through my mouth, head down, headphones on.

“I hate car indicators. Alarms. Anything repetitive. It’s like something slicing through me – thinly and sharply.” 

What has sent you into sensory overload and how do you feel?


Depression is the ‘worst of the worst’. A period of recuperation, compassion and mindfulness helps me. And a reminder that this too will end and evolve into a renewed and better state of mind.

“It’s like treading water, when all you really want is to sink. Quickly. It’s dark, with a stench; ugly as hell”.

When depressed, how is it for you and how does it manifest?


Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre is run by Riverhouse Barn Ltd, a limited company wholly owned by Walton-On-Thames Community Arts Trust  (Charity number 292178)