We are honored to feature a new show on the network hosted by the incredible Dr Gil Gippy, co author of Respecting Autism with the late Stanley Greenspan. For his premiere he is bringing us a very special guest, Christopher Gauthier, a brilliant photographer and autism advocate who has photographed some of the most renowned experts in the autism community as well as the beautiful children they give a voice. The premiere of Respecting Autism will air Sunday December 8th at 9pmE/6pmP
Evidence and Artifacts: Facing Autism, the brilliant photography of Christopher M. Gauthiér’s in collaboration with his wife Jacqueline, Autism parents and advocates. Click on any picture to enter the gallery.
Evidence and Artifacts: Facing Autism is a long-term photographic project documenting the growing number of individuals, families and invested teachers, advocates, clinicians, medical professionals and researchers on the front lines fighting back against disability. Facing Autism is both a call to action, and a way to honor those who are rising to the challenge autism presents everyday.
“Autistic spectrum disorders are complex developmental disorders, associated with the well-known symptoms of social and communication difficulties, self-stimulatory and repetitive behaviors, and narrow or overly-focused interests. These symptoms result from underlying challenges in a child’s ability to take in the world through his senses, and to use his body and thoughts to respond to it.”
– Child Psychiatrist, Dr. Stanley Greenspan MD
Public debate is intense as the nation grapples with a sense of urgency for answers regarding the causation, prevalence, and effective treatment of autism spectrum disorders that now affects at least 1:88 children in the U.S., 1:47 in Utah. In a paper written by Dr. Martha R. Herbert, MD, Autism: A Brain Disorder, Or A Disorder That Affects The Brain? Dr. Herbert states that, “ Autism has been modeled as a brain-based, strongly genetic disorder, but emerging findings and hypotheses support a broader model of the condition as genetically influenced and systemic.” Dr. Herbert acknowledges the role of environmental insults as a possible trigger for biomedical conditions that impact the varying behaviors associated with autism and indicates possible points for intervention and treatment. If researchers were able to identify components of the toxic soup required to trigger vulnerable children, perhaps we could begin to stem the tide of children struggling with allergies, asthma, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism.
Christopher M. Gauthiér creates and exhibits this work to humanize the statistics and to convey my deep concern about the impact of environmental toxicity on health and human development. The Facing Autism portraits compel the viewer’s engagement, and demand a sensitive visual inquiry of the individual faces. In the act of looking, the viewer may experience a sense of being “seen” by the children, in their delight and anguish; “seen” by the fierce and loving families in their grief and hope; “seen” by the teachers and therapists in their commitment to the notion that all children can learn; “seen” by the compassionate medical professionals in their search for ways to relieve human suffering and “seen” by the scientific and academic research community who dare to raise disquiet in their pursuit of truth related to autism causation. This shift in perception reduces the chance of exploiting “poster children” to gain political currency, exposing those with power to the collective gaze of expectation by the autism community.
Facing Autism heralds a significant truth. The causation of the autism epidemic is yet unknown, and even as the numbers grow exponentially, the collective response seems utterly inadequate. Our children’s minds and bodies are being held hostage in the public and private battleground of the politics of autism. Our eyes are on you. We are pleading with you not to be silent in the face our urgency.
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” – Robert F. Kennedy
Evidence and Artifacts examines what has been left behind; remnants of recent history and trace evidence of on-going offenses. The collection calls attention to crimes against the Earth and it’s inhabitants; by it’s inhabitants. As an activist/advocacy photographer, I am motivated to civil engagement on these issues as a matter of ethics. Christopher is convinced that change is possible. Defining his work as activism/advocacy photography does not signify discordant political action, but rather clarifies his intent to educate the public about the need for change and a desire to influence the powerful to consider sacrificing additional wealth acquisition for the greater good.
The children of this generation are like the historic canaries in the coal mine, a sign that the social contract to care for our natural resources and protect the most vulnerable among us has been breached. The growing prevalence of autism and other developmental disorders requires immediate action from many sources, and will involve complex and multi-disciplinary collaborations to find desperately needed answers for prevention and treatment.
“The earth, the air, the land and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but on loan from our children. So we have to hand over to them at least as it was handed over to us.” – Gandhi
Evidence and Artifacts: Martyrs, Saints and Superheroes is a collection of narrative portraits referencing Renaissance/Baroque saint paintings and iconic hero representations. These photographs are of people who best personify exceptional courage, wisdom or compassion and exemplify the highest humanitarian ideals but are under recognized, diminished or vilified for their efforts. Some of the people photographed are bringing attention to the damage we are inflicting on our planet, while others are focused on relieving human suffering.