Originally posted here:
“It’s relaxing for me to paint and is a way to express myself when I can’t find the right words,” Amanda LaMunyon
1. What has been your greatest challenges having autism?
The biggest challenge I have had is overcoming the way others view me because I have autism. However, I have learned that I am just the way God intended me to be. I am perfectly imperfect. The Bible says, “God knew me before I was in the womb and that I am perfectly and wonderfully made.” I have to remind myself of this fact from time to time. There have been many challenges with dealing with the world around me and I have learned to handle them.
When I was very young I used to throw myself on the floor and scream and no one could figure out what I was screaming about it was almost always in a public place. When I was older and could explain I told them that I was afraid of heights.
That made no sense because it was never when we were up high. I finally could explain that it wasn’t looking down that was bothering me. It was looking up. When I looked up I felt like I was falling up. The doctor said it was because I would lose my balance. So after that discovery my parents gave me big hats and sunglasses to wear when we were in that kind of situation. I’m doing much better with that now.
I still get nervous and feel out of place in some social situations especially when with people I am not familiar with. Big groups seem to be the hardest. The older I get I try to find ways to cope with different situations. I sometimes struggle with being independent or I should say wanting to be independent.
2. What were some difficulties you experienced in school?
Focusing was an issue for me. My mind would be going a mile a minute so it tended to be difficult focusing on one thing unless I was very interested in it. At school I kind of felt out of place. Socially I always felt like I was a stranger.
3. How did you become interested in art? At what age?
As long as I can remember I have been interested in art. I loved to draw. I really enjoyed making things from paper and tape. I could make just about anything. I officially began to paint when I was seven and my mother found an art teacher for me.
4. How has art helped you to develop social skills?
It is most time relaxing for me to paint and it is a way to express myself when I can’t find the words. Before anyone knew I had the gift of painting, I was always getting in trouble at school and I think people viewed me in that way. But, when I started painting I became known more as the girl who could paint. This helped give me confidence in who I was.
5. How has your faith in Christ impacted your life?
I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was very young. I know God gave me gifts for a reason and I want to use my life and my gift to encourage others that God gives everyone a gift. The biggest gift anyone can have is the gift of God’s Son, Jesus. I haven’t always understood what this really means. But I am beginning to understand that it isn’t what I do or don’t do that makes me a Christian. It is what God has already done.
6. What are some challenges you experienced with faith and belief in God?
In today’s society and culture, it can be challenging to believe God is in control. Sometimes I question why certain things happen the way they do and why I do some things I have done. Faith is believing something you cannot see and yet still believe. But even in these times God is growing my faith.
7. What do you like best about the concept of faith?
The fact that no one is perfect and yet God loves us anyway is a wonderful thing. He says that in our weaknesses we will know Him and His strength. In this way I am learning.
8. What advice would you give to young adults who have autism?
I would advise others with or without autism not to ever give up. Be patient and try to listen to those who love you and want to help you. Believe God made you just the way you are and He loves you.
9. What has God been teaching you in life?
Patience! Being an adult is challenging.
10. What is your goals in life and your dream job?
I will always enjoy art so I want to use art in some way. I also love children. I am learning that God has given me other abilities too and I want to be versatile. I want to always be an advocate for the awareness of autism and the abilities people have with autism.
11. What do you wish people would understand about autism?
I would like people to know that we are just like them in so many ways. We have hopes and dreams. We may seem different but we truly are not less.
12. What was the best part of being on the Today show with Megyn Kelly Show?
I was extremely surprised and honored to know that I was invited to be on the Today Show with Megyn Kelly. There are many artists with autism who are so talented and I was very humbled. The experience was uplifting for me.
Amanda Grace LaMunyon is an artist diagnosed with Asperger’s and has savant ability in painting and drawing from Enid, Oklahoma. She sells her artwork with a portion of the proceeds going to raise money for improving the lives of children with autism. Amanda’s art has been displayed in galleries like the Salmagundi Club and Carnegie Hall in New York City and she was a featured story on the Today Show with Megyn Kelly. She has received a number of state and national awards for community service in fundraising efforts for autism research and children’s health. Amanda’s website is https://amandalamunyon.com
Ron Sandison works full time in the medical field and is a professor of theology at Destiny School of Ministry. He is an advisory board member of Autism Society Faith Initiative of Autism Society of American. Sandison has a Master of Divinity from Oral Roberts University and is the author of A Parent’s Guide to Autism: Practical Advice. Biblical Wisdom published by Charisma House. He has memorized over 10,000 Scriptures including 22 complete books of the New Testament and over 5,000 quotes.
He frequently guest speaks at colleges, conferences, autism centers, and churches. Ron and his wife, Kristen, reside in Rochester Hills, MI, with a baby daughter, Makayla Marie born on March 20, 2016. You can contact Ron at his website www.spectruminclusion.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org