On a Spectrum

The sparks fly and the fuse goes, 92cm x 61cm, acrylics on canvas (framed)

Image 1 of 6

1. Melt|down & Shut|down [ˈʃʌtdaʊn ˈmɛltdaʊn] Getting overwhelmed and exhausted by certain social situations. When all the senses are sent into overdrive. Like overloading a plug socket. There’s only so much I can take: the sparks fly and the fuse goes. That’s me having a meltdown. It can last for hours. I am not good at dealing with change and often become an immovable object. Sensory overload, thoughts not making sense, frustration and anger, crying and screaming - a loss of control. A symptom of being overwhelmed. When things are not in order, a meltdown can happen. I need to get away. It happened once at the airport. I don’t remember much of it. With the sensory overload of the terminal and the stress of the travel, it had all become too much. I needed quiet – peace and darkness. Coolness. It was too hot. Sensory overwhelm happens so easily and so quickly. Neurotypicals just don’t understand. A disastrous collapse. It happens when I’m forced to multi-task. My brain doesn’t work that way. It’s like someone has opened too many tabs and then it all crashes down. It takes ages for me to restart. I feel so tired. It can take days to recover. I feel embarrassed. When someone’s talking too much and there’s too much information. A loss of language and ability to engage with the external environment. Painful surroundings. I breakdown and weep.

Diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (AS) in late 2015, my perspective on life shifted as this new information appeared on my horizon. I’d only heard of AS in the context of whatever book or film I’d been reading in the moment – it wasn’t something that stuck. Nor did I know anyone with Asperger’s. I had become a one percent-er.

As I read more about the condition and attended a group for the newly diagnosed, I was keen to hear more from others and how they experience their Asperger’s. This is how this collection of paintings came about – through the means of a questionnaire, social media and a background in market research. Read the full story here


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)