Autism: The Cartoon

Colleen McFarland

One of Ivy Street School's specialties is Autism Services, helping students with autism spectrum disorder to enhance their executive functioning, social, and communication skills in addition to academics.

In this cartoon series, Ivy Street School graduate Colleen takes a look at life through the lens of someone growing up with autism, giving an honest, first-hand depiction of her experiences, including the highs, the lows, and everything in between.

About the artist: Colleen McFarland is a 2012 graduate of Ivy Street School. She is a twenty-three year old artist from Norwood, Massachusetts. She loves to watch movies and Broadway musicals as well as read books. She currently lives at home with her parents and has two older siblings. Her dream is to one day be a professional artist in New York.



Colleen McFarland's cartoon about autism and church

Text: "Having autism makes me wired differently. Church has always been a challenging place for me because I often felt anxious and squirmy and I had to follow the social rules of church.

"My mom and dad felt it was important to be connected to God. I was just there because my family was there. But I am not an atheist; far from it in fact, but because I was a squirmy, anxious child, who would be trying to climb all over the place or wanting to do a 'tap dance' on top of the pew, or even make a lot of noise. Much to my mom's dismay--the other people in the pews would give her dirty looks as if to say "What is wrong with your child?!" After we realized I had autism, it was much easier to understand why I have trouble in church, it got a bit better but it was still hard.

"After I made my confirmation when I was fifteen I suppose I was free to decide whatever religious path I wanted to take. So I chose to have a 'Broadway God' because the only time I feel connected to any type of God is when I'm doing something Broadway related. My 'Broadway God' lets people of all sexual preferences and animals go to heaven. Many people would call this blasphemy--but it's who I am."

Colleen McFarland's cartoon about autism and swimming


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