Anabelle Listic is a 27 year-old artist living is Seattle. She is foremost a film and digital photographer. Anabelle has autism and is profoundly visual. We’re thrilled to feature her work in our Squagpads and to have her as a regular contributor to the Squag blog:
How old were you when you discovered your talent as a photographer?
Anabelle: My mom has always encouraged me to explore my artistic side.
In high school, after struggling to “find my voice” through painting, drawing and many other art mediums, I discovered photography. It was the first time I really felt like I could artistically express myself to others. I spent countless hours in a darkroom developing film and prints.
I seek subjects through my camera lens that bring a sense of magic to everyday life. I rarely do any digital editing to my photographs because I like people to know that these images came from real life, allowing us to be reminded that there are parts of this world that seem make-believe, but it’s real.
I focus on what is beautiful and meaningful, because there is already so much we see that isn’t.
What is your advice to young kids who are looking to find theirs?
Anabelle: Try new things, even when it is scary.
It can be really difficult to try new things. But, if you don’t try, you may never discover what you truly love. It is the way to gain more knowledge and independence in this world. We learn by doing.
You do. We do. I do: This is a saying I use when someone asks how I learn best. I use this method when I want to learn something new but I cannot on my own.
You do: Someone does the task and explains to me how-why-what they are doing, while I watch how the process goes. This can sometimes take days, weeks, months, years.
We do: Then, when I am ready, or when I am nudged to take the next step, my helper(s) teaches me do the physical tasks while they verbally explain, and prompt me what to do.
I do: Then I do it, and have them near, the first few times, and ask questions if I need any additional help.
You have had a lot of experience mentoring kids and parents about life with ASD. Why is this work so important to you?
Anabelle: It has been, and will always be, important to me that people with autism have mentors that are also autistic.
ASD individuals may need extra help in life, but we still want to be independent, explore our personalities, and learn new things. Those things are best learned from someone they can really relate to.
Why is social media such a great tool for this kind of mentorship?
Anabelle: Social media is an excellent tool for mentoring. Even though I am not able to work with autistic individuals in schools or their homes anymore, due to my challenges, I am able to continue mentoring thanks to social media sites (like squag.com), from the familiarity of my home environment. I am very excited to be able to continue to help others with ASD, without creating more challenges for myself.
Within predictability and structure comes personality and expression. Squag.com is the type of place that can create such structure to allow ASD individuals to feel comfortable enough to interact and let their personalities come out.
So glad you think so! That is the goal after all! We created the Squagpads so that kids could begin to advocate for themselves in a social and creative way. Can you describe what it’s felt like for you to have your blog as a platform to advocate for yourself?
Anabelle: At first, it was very scary for me to put anything on my blog about who I really am. Over time, it has become empowering. It has given me confidence to express and value the autistic side of myself. I feel like for the fist time I have a consistent voice.
Having a blog has lowered my frustration with communication. I love that I can put more permanent words out there. When I am talking verbally, I often forget what I just said, right after I say it. It can become extremely difficult to have longer conversations because I often have to be reminded of my own words and have difficulty keeping up with the conversation.
My blog also gives me a voice and opinion when I am in pubic. If I am unable to remember my words or talk at that moment, I can just hand them one of my cards and they can check out my blog to learn more than I could possible say by talking aloud.
Where did your love for jellyfish come from?
Anabelle: When I was younger, my mom was always looking for things that would calm me. After going to the Point Defiance Zoo And Aquarium one time, she realized how fixated and calm I became around the jellyfish.
After that day, she took me to the aquarium as often as she could manage, usually very early in the morning, when we were usually the only visitors there.
Jellyfish became the biggest calming tool in my life. All I have to do is picture a jellyfish in my mind and everything slows down. The movement reminds my body to breathe deeply and to slow down. They are beautiful creatures.