This guest post is by Faith Butterfield, a young woman on the autism spectrum who has been accepted and is attending Citrus College where she is majoring in Fine Arts. Faith is applying for the Spring 2019 Making a Difference Autism Scholarship via the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference. You can read more about the organization and how to apply for our scholarship here. You can help our scholarship program continue to help these students by making a donation to our scholarship fund here (the majority of our scholarship program is ran through donors from our community such as yourself so no matter if you could donate anything, whether it be $5 anywhere up to $5,000 it would be making a difference!).
I am an autistic savant and activist with savant skills in arts and languages. I am a future character designer and concept artist. I have one movie, and 2 TV shows ideas I’ve been working on for a couple of years that I hope to sell to animation studios.
On Father’s Day in 2000, my talent of drawing was born, I was 3 years old when my mom put a Father’s Day card in front of me to make my mark but instead, I drew my dad’s face. From that day one I became obsessed with drawing faces. I drew my mom’s face, my dad’s face, my sister Gracie’s face. When I ran out of paper, I draw on the walls, floors, and then rolled out the toilet paper and started drawing on it.
At age 6, I met David Mehnert who became my mentor for the next 7 years of my life.
My educational experience was miserable because they tried to put me in a county class for people who had low IQ’s and cognitively delayed. My IQ is 140. The school said I was untestable. My parents said I was untestable and already reading and had me put in the ASRD class in the school district they fought for inclusion in society. I was fully included in regular classes from grades 3 to 12 with support and services. In 7th grade, I was forced to become an activist for inclusion.
I began to experience segregation when I started junior high school. The school staff told me that I need to break away from my friends, so they could keep me in the disabled quad. It was their idea to keep me safe. For me it was segregation and discrimination and loss of all my friends. This inspired me to write an essay about my experiences of segregation and inclusion which I shared in a citywide essay contest which I won. My junior high school was angry that I wrote about my experiences in segregation, and the next thing I knew that I was denied from participating in Advanced Drama even though I made an A in Drama class and received standing ovations. They also refused to allow me to do my essay at a talent show saying it was offensive. So, I changed schools. Even though it was rated highest in the area to a charter art school which very poor to escape and find refugee so I can be included in society.
The first year at high school was successful and good with no segregation. But the second year, they added a junior high school to the charter school and they decided not to allow me to attend summer art camp. Later, I got an ADA attorney together, we helped changed the policy and now my former school and I work together to end discrimination and segregation.
During my freshman year at high school, my art teacher, Mrs. Preston told me that I need to create an original character. I liked history and culture and as an artist, I try to make it my goal to tell truth though history. I was inspired by my 7th grade History class with Justinian who was last Roman emperor and I became obsessed with him. For the last 5 years, I’ve been working on my animated feature film that is based on the lives of Justinian and Theodora. This is the basis for my movie. I want to be a concept artist, writer, director, and animator. I have come with promotion ideas of the movie and merchandising ideas, it’s a romantic comedy/adventure/historical epic film. I was inspired by the styles of Looney Tunes, Disney, anime, Bruce Timm, and Butch Hartman.
I began my formal art training with Mark Westermoe. I spent a year with him till his sabbatical with diabetes. I understand if I want to be a good entertainment artist, I have to learn how to do realism, I practice by drawing head abstractions, live models, and also hands and feet. I’m currently getting my portfolio ready for art school and attending classes at Citrus College which I’m in. My current grade is 4.00. My favorite class is Art History with my future mentor Sandra Johnson who is retiring after teaching, and I hope to continue my activist work by having speaking engagements speaking about inclusion for the rest of society.
In closing, I would like to leave with my essay that started my activism.
Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help us continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.
Also, consider having Kerry, one of the only professionally accredited speakers on the spectrum in the country, speak at your next event by sending him an inquiry here. If you have a referral for someone who many want him to speak please reach out as well! Kerry speaks with schools, businesses, government agencies, colleges, nonprofit organizations, parent groups and other special events on topics ranging from employment, how to succeed in college with a learning disability, internal communication, living with autism, bullying prevention, social media best practices, innovation, presentation best practices and much more!
We’d also appreciate if you could take a minute to create a Facebook Fundraiser to support our nonprofit’s scholarship fund! You can learn more about how you can do just that here.