A SCOTTISH writer and artist will have work showcasing the impact her autism diagnosis has had on her life at a major exhibition this month.

Beth Radic, 23 and originally from Girvan, was diagnosed with autism in September 2021 and has since worked to raise awareness of the condition.

She studied fine art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design in Dundee and had her dissertation, which focused on art and autism, published in paperback.

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Specifically, it looked at the work of Andy Warhol as she explains there was a lot of speculation about the artist being autistic.

She wanted to combat the stigma that autism had, as the condition always seems to be portrayed as something negative.

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“I felt it was vital to highlight that autistic traits can be extremely advantageous to have, as much scientific literature only discusses the negatives, further contributing to stigmas surrounding autism,” Radic (above) tells the Sunday National.

“My book concludes with a review of Warhol’s many accomplishments and how his success as an artist could be attributed to his proposed autistic traits, which have been speculatively discussed.”

Being diagnosed

THE 23-year-old explains that it wasn’t until her second year of university that she started to believe she might be autistic.

“Because I’m a woman, I think I managed to mask it far better which is a phenomenon you find largely in the autistic community – girls and women do tend to camouflage their traits,” she said.

“I was sort of struggling with my mental health and for a while, my mum had thought I could be on the spectrum.

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“I almost didn’t believe it but while I was in isolation in 2020, I started researching women on the spectrum as opposed to reading about men and realised it could be me so I went to my GP and put forward all the reasons as to why I thought I should be evaluated.

“I was on the wait list for around a year which is quite lucky because it can take longer but I self-identified while I waited and when I was finally diagnosed it was a massive relief.”

New exhibition

RADIC'S work is finding plenty success. She says she’s honoured to have her work chosen to be shown at this year’s Royal Scottish Academy’s New Contemporaries 2024 exhibition in Dundee.

“As a recently diagnosed autistic woman, my exhibition work centres around revisiting my childhood experiences through a new lens as well as highlighting the impact that my experiences and autism have on me in the present,” she says.

The exhibition will be running from March 30 to April 24 and helps to promote emerging artists in Scotland.

Have perceptions changed?

RADIC believes that society’s understanding of autism has come along greatly, even if there is still work to do.

The Scottish Government is currently running a consultation on the Learning Disabilities, Autism and Neurodivergence Bill which aims to “champion the rights of people with learning disabilities and neurodivergent people”.

Radic says she is “delighted” the consultation has been launched as she says that “people hear the word autism and don’t fully understand how different every single person is, it’s not a one-size-fits-all”.

“I think many people are wary of the use of labels, for fear that this will limit themselves or loved ones, by putting them ‘in a box of sorts’.

“However, I would much rather have known I was autistic growing up rather than being labelled as ‘weird’ and ‘overly sensitive’ by my peers.

“I am extremely lucky to have come from such a supportive, autism-positive household but I recognise that I am privileged in this respect.

“Legislation would ensure that autistic people are given the respect they deserve no matter their background.”