Artist With Autism Calls For Join Autistic Culture Movement
A Birmingham artist Rozagy (pronounced Roza-Gee) who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome 3 years ago has pledged to raise 1 million pounds in 2 years for autism charities across the country.
So far she's raised just over £ 6,000 through her and her son's art sold to benefit autism charities. As a founding member of Autistic culture movement UK with Scottish artist Peter Howson, Rozagy is asking others to join her in her creative quest to help change lives of people on the autistic spectrum.
Works by some of Britain’s top artists with a link to autism are to go under the hammer at the Royal Opera Arcade Galleria, Pall Mall on Thursday 26 February with all proceeds going to The National Autistic Society (NAS), the UK’s leading charity for people affected by autism.
Rozagy is the only artist to be represented through her art for both charities that support Autistic people and families: NAS England & NAS Scotland for their upcoming auctions (Enland 26th of Feb and Scotland 19th). She's painted the Queen, Madonna, David Becham, Nikki Bacharach and many others to benefit autism cause.
Her more traditional portrait of the Queen, approved by the palace, was on display at the House of Commons in July 2008. Her song for Autism 'Open Every Door' (written to the lyrics by Nimal Mendis) made history being the first time a song written, produced and performed by a person with autism to be played in Parliament on Feb. 21st 2008.
But Rozagy's latest controversial portrait of Madonna and David Beckham, titled: 'Idols, Medicine, Obsessions' depicting Madonna in green grass outfit shaped into medicine's snake sign and armless like the iconic statue of Venus, and David Beckham with grass for hair is to be sold at an auction for NAS Scotland on Feb 19th.
Other famous artists who were asked to donate their artwork include Stephen Wiltshire, autistic savant who draws buildings from memory, and Peter Howson - Scotland's biggest living artist today, also diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.
Rozagy was born in Russia in 1971 and was on-off non-verbal as a child. Her autism was undiagnosed and the difficulties at school put down to having bad eye-sight that caused communication difficulties and at one point during her tantrums there were attempts to 'exorcize' her by a Russian orthodox priest who threw holy water on her as part of ceremony. She was educated privately because school children picked on her so much and having training in art and music calmed her enough to pass all the subjects and enroll in music college at 15 before emigrating to England in 1990 aged just 19.
Rozagy lived there ever since and regards Birmingham in particular to be her spiritual home. She is a married mother of two sons on the autistic spectrum and has decided to do something about raising awareness of lack of support for autistic people and their families when her older son has had to change schools 3 times in 3 years due to bullying and little understanding from the school staff. Rozagy says that the lack of training is to blame for people's wrong reaction to autism and recalls how her family were nearly torn apart when one school's former acting headmistress falsely accused her of being mentally ill and of teaching her child to be autistic with social services subsequently threatening to take her children away.
The family were placed on child protection in 2006 on charges of 'possible emotional abuse by teaching children with autism' , the allegations they fought for 2 years. And even though they had been fully cleared and the Social services had apologised, it's left the family deeply traumatised. Despite finally receiving diagnosis of autistic traits her son Gennadi, 9 has yet to receive any help and support and baby Elijah, 2 is showing the same signs as his brother.
Rozagy recalls years of bullying and abuse by children at her school, misunderstanding and frustration of being seen as 'different' in life, struggling to gain or keep employment despite having two university degrees, being liked by her teachers but rejected by her peers (a common situation for people on the autistic spectrum). Being finally diagnosed with Asperger's at 35 when she found herself in crisis was a relief and gave her a newfound strength to do everything she can not to let her children go through the same pain.
Being autistic herself, Rozagy relies on her intuition and her husband's support to best help her children and says that art and creativity were a saviour for the whole family. Her son Gennadi is the youngest artist with autism to be represented by the online art gallery in UK.
Rozagy believes that many parents of autistic children who may or may not be autistic themselves go through the same prolonged and unnecessary hurdles, stress and heartache before getting any kind of diagnosis and support and welcomes government's first step towards creating autism law which will require local authorities to take action.
It is simply unacceptable that people affected by autism struggle to access the help they so desperately need, leaving many feeling isolated, ignored and often at breaking point. Rozagy is urging people around the world to help create the first ever autism law, which will require local authorities to take action.
By e-mailing your MP in UK at www.autism.org.uk/autismbill and asking them to vote for the Bill which has the potential to radically transform hundreds of thousands of lives everyone can help make a difference.
The Autism Bill, backed by The National Autistic Society and 13 other autism charities, will be debated in Parliament on February 27 and urgently needs support.
And Rozagy believes that if more people joined autistic culture movement - a way to bring out the positives of autism - it would help make people on the autistic spectrum more accepted by society and receive help. Jakki Dean, a noted photographer from London and a mother of autistic child, agrees: 'I do not know where to start, but willing. The trouble is that as parents of kids who are 'different' we are all struggling to survive in a world that does not want to know and this alone takes so much time and energy, and keeping our children safe on a day to day basis leaves little space to do much else'.
Many people on the autistic spectrum are known to blossom with the right support, yet we also tragically lose many to clinical depression linked to this condition when support is non-existent. Nikki Bacharach - the daughter of composer Burt Bacharach, who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome and killed herself in 2007 aged just 40 is one of those victims of no support. Genevieve Edmonds - a best-selling British author of 5 books and a public speaker, also with Asperger's, took her life exactly a year ago, on Feb. 8 2008.
With Autism Sunday yesterday - which was officially declared international prayer day for Autism and supported by David Cameron, parliamentarians and Sarah Brown among others, this is what David Cameron said: ‘I would like to express my support for Autism Sunday. As many as one in a hundred people could be affected by some form of autism, and it is important that we recognise and raise awareness of the difficulties and challenges that they can face.’
But there also needs to be more than a prayer - a firm action by the government will be welcome. And local people have a big say in this important issue which hopefully will make government listen. We can all do more. Autistic people want to and can be useful. The more people join the drive to change the law to support people on the autistic spectrum the stronger we can become as a society.