Autism is not a mental illness, says nationally renowned artist

By Connor McDonagh

Multi format artist Jon Adams believes autism is simply a different way of thinking rather than a mental illness.

Speaking at De Montfort University, freelance artist Jon Adams, who has autism, says it is wrong for it to be classed as a ‘mental illness’ and is pushing for change in legislation.

”Autism is not a mental illness, it is a different way of thinking,” Jon said. ”Other people’s mistreatment of autism causes other mental illnesses such depression rather than autism itself.”

Jon hopes legislation is changed in the near future, similar to that of the LGBTQ+ community, to make it a ‘level playing field’ for people who have autism.

”Only 15% of people who have autism are in work compared to 50% of disabled,” he stated. ”We need to change attitudes in society. 40 years ago, being homosexual was seen as a mental illness and over time, we can change how autism is viewed in our society by eradicating the myths which surrounds it.’’

Jon was officially diagnosed with autism at the age of 52 and dyslexia at 39, a cruel experience during his time at primary school meant he did not go to art school.

”There was a time at school where I misspelt my name and a teacher tore my picture up in front of the class which has affected me for a long time,” Jon revealed.

He subsequently studied Geology and Palaeontology at King’s College, London, which ultimately led to him delving into the niche market of scientific illustration.

Jon’s latest project, ‘Democracy Street’ was commission as part of Parliament’s 2015 anniversary programme in particular the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

connor-art-picture‘Democracy Street’ is an interactive application that lets you explore links between street names and the people who shaped society.

”It is a digital app which lets people explore the history behind their street name. Whether it is King’s Street or something less common as Alexander Fleming road, the app will give you the information and history behind it.’’

Jon’s artwork (pictured) uses the patterns and shapes of the streets he chooses to construct wonderful, abstract art. He argues his autism allows him to ‘show the world what is in my head’.

You can visit Jon’s latest project, ‘Democracy Street’ at:

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