Autism Parenting Magazine Issue 74 (Member's Dashboard) - Page 33

PARENTAL ADVICE strations at Sam’s Club. I hand out free samples. It’s kind of like selling. I make the samples, advertise them, and get people to buy them. It’s a good job for me. It caters to my need to be clean. It also helps me learn to be more friendly and open. I had to learn to smile and wave to people. It helped me with my social skills. Dr. Moore: I recall from the book that you had also started selling your art. Can you explain to readers how that began? Note: The steps Cosette and her mom took to get to the point of selling her art are described in greater detail in The Loving Push. Cosette: I first worked at a small, local harvest festi- val in 2014. I drew images on index cards and gave them away to kids. If they wanted me to color them in, they had to ask their parents for a dollar and then I’d do that. I made some money, and I thought, “I can find my niche!” That’s the thing you have to do. You have to do what makes you happy and what makes you distinct. Go with your favorite thing, and that is how you build your niche. My art is a mash-up between video game characters and other popular media characters from TV or movies. I make silly fusion drawings. I just let my imagination go wild when I draw. I got known as the person who does this and built a fan base. I like drawing silly and cute things. So now I go to Comic-Con conventions and sell my work. After I graduate, I want to work in illustration or graphic design. Maybe I’ll do illustrations for greet- ing cards or books or maybe art for product design for a company. Dr. Moore: I have no doubt you will succeed. I remem- ber in the book we included a great picture of you, as a toddler, standing with a paintbrush working at your easel. You were barely old enough to stand up! You were adorable by the way. Do you remember that? Cosette: I remember thinking, “Don’t put that in the book—it’s embarrassing!” [She chuckles.] But Mom thought it was okay, and it was. When I was little no- body taught me how to paint, but later when I could read I got “how to draw” books, and then in middle school, I had an art teacher. Dr. Moore: Painting can be messy, and you said you like things clean. How is the sensory experience of making art for you? Cosette: Messiness bothers me. I don’t like painting at all! It smears and doesn’t dry quickly, and it’s hard to correct. I don’t work with chalk or charcoal either. I like my pen or pencil or using computer programs. Dr. Moore: That makes sense. Okay, I have one last question. If you could illustrate a book for kids with autism, which I think you would be great at by the way, what would you want it to be about? Cosette: I’d want it to say it’s okay to be this way. The main thing is letting kids know they are not weird or alien; they are just different. They’re not failures and don’t have a disease. I’d say, “You’re you and here’s how you can understand you.” When I was a kid, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I’d tell them how to live with autism and how to tell other people they’re not broken. I’d tell kids, “This is what sensory issues feel like.” I’d explain how it feels to be awkward or anxious. I’d help them to tell other people what they need, too, like how to tell them they don’t always under- stand what other people are trying to say. And that Autism Parenting Magazine | Issue 74 | 33