Alexandra is a writer and illustrator from Long Beach, CA and creator of the Amazing Artists publishing company. This week she discussed some of her latest children’s books, her dedication to becoming an author, and the support she received along the way.
Describe your awareness and processing of your autism diagnosis.
For me the official awareness was probably during when I was tested at Harbor Regional Center. Initially I did not know what the testing was for, but after the diagnosis of ASD, then the condition/situation had a name. The diagnosis was a start, but what it was a start of really was not clear. At 15, everyone said that the diagnosis was late. Perhaps it was an “aha” moment for my parents, but for me, it really did not impact much of my daily life.
What are some of your greatest challenges and strengths?
The greatest challenge was trying to get help from the school system. Ten years ago, there was still much to learn, and teachers/administrators were not really properly equipped or trained to handle the vast differences of students within the spectrum. My personal challenges are trying to maintain calm to reduce my anxiety when around lots of people and noise.
My parents are my strongest advocates fighting for services from whomever they could find and accommodations from schools. My parents have been and continue to be my greatest strengths. Family is the base for a strong support structure. My personal strengths are my writing and illustrating. I have a book blog with over 100+ books that I have reviewed and share on my website. I love to read my books to kids of all ages.
Tell me about your new children’s book release Wild Imagination: The Adventures of Maddie and Albert. What were some of your main goals with this project? In other words, what impact do you hope it will have on readers?
I have always loved books. My mom always read to me and took me to libraries and bookstores. Ever since I can remember I loved to draw and write stories about my own imaginary characters. My dream was that one day perhaps I too would have a book in libraries and bookstores where other children like myself would be encouraged to pursue their dreams.
What was the publishing process like? What were some of the highs and lows?
The publishing has been a group effort. My part was to write and illustrate the books and have it ready for publishing. Like most writers, I have had to deal with the usual writer’s block, illustrating challenges, etc. My dad researched the whole publishing process, and we decided that it would be best for our family and me to establish our own publishing company. Amazing Artist LLC came to be. My books are published with all the legalese required for distribution in all retail outlets. Short-term goal is to publish my books and my art. Long term it would be great if we could also help those like myself who would also like to publish their own works.
Does Amazing Artists have any other books in the pipeline? What is your vision for the company?
As of today, I actually have two books from “The Adventures of Maddie and Albert” series. “Wild Imagination” was published in June 2018, and “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” in January 2019. The third book “Flying the Imaginary Skies” is ready. There is a slight possibility that a traditional publisher may be a potential option for this book, but we are prepared to publish it in January of 2020. I am currently working on my fourth book. Our vision for my company is that it will be the vehicle that will share my work with the world, and, subsequently, create a career for myself.
What’s something your parents and/or teachers did to support you that you appreciated?
My parents are a 100% part of my support structure. Without their support and tenacity, I am not where I am today. While it is me who actually has to write and illustrate the stories, without them I would not have the tools and the ability to take it beyond that.
I have been able to meet several people who have become my mentors, including teachers, an author, a studio executive, gallery owners, and school district superintendents. I’ve also met with local, state, and national organizations that advocate for all with disabilities.
What are the main factors in helping you develop a positive autistic identity today?
I can honestly say that the main factor that contribute to where I am today is my family. They advocate for me every day. I have achieved much over the last few years, and I have had my moments of having to deal with my situation, but none of this would be possible without the support of my awesome support base.
You can find Alexandra on social media via the links below: