Voices Through Art is a collaborative project between the Autism Community Research Network @ Southampton [ACoRNS], Samantha Davies, independent artist, and New Forest School. It is an impact project designing four short comics targeted at autistic children transitioning from primary to secondary school. The transition between primary and secondary school is a daunting process, even more so for young autistic children, where the move from smaller, supportive environments to larger, independent ones, can have potentially long-term impacts on these individuals. Critically, the COVID-19 lockdown has resulted in significant disruptions and lack of support. Long-term effects have not yet been discovered, giving this project even more significance.
The project aims to support the wellbeing and resilience of children, family and schools through transitions by using existing and ongoing research in autistic children’s transition experiences, working closely with our partner schools to gain feedback throughout the design process and ensure the resulting comics reflect the resources individuals need to support their transitions. Through this project, we can provide a non-patronising, engaging resource to equip young people with ideas and strategies to encourage thoughts and management of the transition to secondary school that fills a gap current resources do not fill.
Upon completing the comics, we intend to gather feedback from individuals at our partner schools and their parents and teachers; evaluating their impact before and during the transition to secondary school during Summer/Autumn 2021. We also intend to raise awareness of the needs and understanding of autistic students from their perspectives by actively gathering and publicising the voices and experiences of those who have used the comic successfully on our social media, before developing a strong, proof-of-concept pitch to publishers to generate a more extensive graphic novel based on this project.