New Aberdeen art exhibition helping to dispel myths about autism

Brandon Brake, 7
Brandon Brake, 7

Colourful pieces of art created by people with autism have taken centre stage at an Aberdeen shopping mall.

Autistic Pride Aberdeen organised an exhibition, in collaboration with charities One Stop Shop Aberdeen, Triple A’s and the Scottish Women’s Autism Network, in an effort to dismantle stereotypes.

All the paintings, sketches and photographs on display at Union Square shopping centre were created by autistic people, some as young as six.

Amy Rae with her work

One of those showing off her photography was Amy Rae, 22, who was diagnosed with the disorder at the age of two.

She said: “It is really exciting stuff. I love the work that I do. I have met some really amazing people through this.

“I was really young when I was diagnosed. The problem I found was people’s lack of understanding. People underestimate my ability because I am seen as disabled.

“This event is to show people that just because I am autistic does not mean I am any less good than anyone else.”

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The artwork was gathered by volunteers from the three charities, as well submitted through Facebook by proud parents who wanted to show off their children’s work.

One of youngest with work on display is seven-year-old Brandon Brake, from Arbroath.

Brandon’s aunt, Broghan Brake, 26, a lecturer for those with additional support needs at the North East Scotland College in Aberdeen, also had her students’ work included in the exhibition.

Broghan, who is from Montrose, said: “When I found out about Autistic Pride, I knew exactly who would be perfect for it.

“Brandon has a few pieces of art and hopefully this is just a starting point and maybe one day he will have his own exhibition.”

The main organiser for the art display, and founder of Autistic Pride Aberdeen, is Marion McLaughlin, 40, who was only diagnosed with autism last year, but says it is now a proud part of her identity.

Autistic Pride Aberdeen founder Marion McLaughlin

She said: “I had a son who was diagnosed just before his fourth birthday and when I was hanging out with other parents of autistic children, I realised I had much more in common with the children than with the parents.

“I eventually managed to get my own diagnosis and when I joined the autistic community it felt like coming home.”

She added: “There is this stereotype that autistic people don’t have any creativity or imagination and it is just not true.

“This is an opportunity to show off some of the beautiful work that autistic artists create and dispel some myths and open up that conversation.

“Some of the kids whose art work is on display have come and seen it and it has made them feel very proud about who they are.”