by Debra Muzikar
I can attest to the high quality of music, art, crafts made by many on the spectrum. This isn’t cheap stuff made in China. These are products that are made with heart and love.
At one of our Art of Autism events in Vancouver a couple years ago, Keri Bowers said to the audience, “When you support people on the autism spectrum by purchasing their products, you support your own child.”
This may be a little difficult for people to understand. With unemployment among autistic people exceeding ninety percent, every action on our part as consumers, can make a difference in a person’s life.
It’s so easy to do our shopping at Walmart or Target. It’s more difficult to seek out products that will make a difference in a person’s life. When you purchase an item made by an autistic person, you are actually investing in that person. You say “I believe in you,” with your dollars.
Participating in the cycle of creativity by purchasing a product has intrinsic benefits, not only to the person, but to your own child. You’re exhibiting the value of your child’s potential. You’re modelling to your own child that you value creations that come from people like them.
I’ve reviewed several books written by Autistic or Asperger’s people. Authors such as Temple Grandin, Donna Williams, Rudy Simone, Judy Endow, Patrick Jasper Lee, Erik Estabrook, Travis Breeding, Dani Bowman, Joel Anderson and Jennifer O’Toole have books that can benefit those who read them.
Almost all the artists we display in our gallery would love to sell originals or prints of their art. In addition, a number of them sell calendars, cards, and products. Some of the musicians sell CD’s. See the post about Rudy Simone from this week. I would love to field inquiries for purchase and supporting artists on the spectrum.
One thing I found when researching programs that support products made by individuals on the autism spectrum is that some programs don’t give the artists a portion of the proceeds from their creations. Instead, the entire amount goes to support the program. I don’t like that model. Other big organizations may have autism e-stores but they aren’t selling autism-made products. They aren’t even selling products designed by autistic people. Instead they are selling products designed by professional people that go to support the nonprofit. Often the nonprofit doesn’t even have a person on the spectrum on their board! That’s not a model I wish to support either.
Here are some other organizations that support autism-made products and give a portion of the proceeds to the autistic person:
Seeds for Autism – sells gift products made by people on the spectrum
Business Builders in Bakersfield – has many micro-enterprises with gifts and services available.
Extraordinary Ventures – This Chapel Hill, North Carolina enterprise sells candles and bath salts made by autistic people.
Eden Autism sells bracelets made by autistic people.
Many artists who are part of the Art of Autism collaborative have art that has been made into cards from Kindtree.org. My son Kevin receives royalty checks annually from this fine organization in Oregon.
I’m sure there are many other organizations who sell products by autistic people. I would love to hear of them. Comment below to add your product to the list.