Welcome to Graphic Explanations! I’m Nat, a 30-something IT professional and amateur illustrator from the United Kingdom, recently diagnosed with an autistic spectrum condition.
Growing up autistic is challenging, and not having the words to describe and explain what makes you different is a challenge of its own. As an adult, I developed strategies to use my strengths and talents to hide my difficulties, but these were fragile, flawed and stopped me from making true connections with others.
Recently things have been changing, gradually I’m finding ways to be happier and more effective. What drove this change was knowledge and understanding. For the first time in my life I found a conclusive reason for why I’ve always been different.
From the word ‘autism’ I’ve found more words, ideas and personal stories that explain why I see the world the way I do. I’ve found others who have the same problems I struggle with, who were sharing insights and solutions that applied to my life.
Understanding was the key to accepting who I am, to help me stop struggling to do things in ways that looked ‘normal’ and actually get them done in ways that worked for me. It has allowed me to be honest with other people, to stop bluffing my way through social situations, and to ask for help and understanding from others when I need it. It’s helping me to get the most out of life; not by ignoring, suppressing or hiding my autistic traits, but by maximising them. I’m learning to be happily and openly autistic.
Why ‘Graphic Explanations’?
When I deal with something difficult or upsetting, I cope by researching. I learn as much as I can about the subject so I can understand what caused the difficulties and how to avoid them happening again. I’ve been searching for answers and learning as much as I could about how I was different for as long as I can remember. Now, for more than a year, I’ve had the greatest research lead possible.
I’ve started this site to collect and explain everything I’ve learned about the autistic spectrum since coming to understand my place on it. I’d like this to be the clear, comprehensive resource that I wish I’d had available to me when I first started trying to research my traits.
Because I don’t like to make things easy for myself, my true aspiration is to make my resource as a nonfiction graphic novel. However I know that I don’t have the time or experience to achieve that yet, and to aim that high would be too much of a barrier to even beginning. So instead I’m launching an ‘occasionally illustrated’ blog that may hopefully become increasingly visual as time goes on.
The name is a play on the fact that ‘novel’ means a long fictional work, so ‘nonfiction graphic novel’ is a contradiction in terms, despite being correct. ‘Graphic explanation’ was my wryly suggested alternative. It also has the benefit of the double meaning suggesting a very detailed, explicit explanation, should I only ever manage to achieve prose output without illustrations.
To begin with, I’ll be reposting articles I’ve written elsewhere, including rewriting blog-post-length comments I’ve left on posts by other autistic bloggers. Once that’s done, I have a list of subjects I’m planning to tackle, some of which I’ve already planned how to illustrate. It’s going to be interesting to see how this site develops, right now the possibilities are inspiring.