Shocked but not shaken: Living life with autism


Stories that Matter presents Ayanna a woman that battles with autism, but doesn’t let it define who she is and her impact on the world. Autism is a development disorder that affects Ayanna’s ability to communicate and interact with others. However, Ayanna uses her platform to educate others about autism and the countless seizures she faces on a daily basis. Ayanna uses art to release her emotions. She creates and designs art for children's books. She hopes her story will show you that no matter the challenges you face, anything is possible. Please learn more about Ayanna below.

When were you diagnosed with autism? Tell us about your experience with autism?

I was diagnosed in 2015. My diagnosis devastated me at first, but then it made me have a better understanding of myself and why I am the way I am and why I respond to things the way I respond. Everyone else always knew something was wrong, but they didn’t know what. Even as a child, I felt different. I had anxiety at a young age, I’m a very picky eater, I had nonverbal episodes, sensory overload meltdowns and shutdowns. It has affected my life only in a way that I have to do things differently but that doesn’t mean I can’t do them.

How have you stayed strong and preserved while dealing with autism?

I’ve stayed strong by staying positive. I stay strong by not letting my challenges with autism win. I’m living with it, but I am still blessed. I may have non-verbal episodes, but they are temporary. Some people on the spectrum are completely non-verbal and they always will be. My heart breaks for them. 

Is there a support system that you would like to thank?

I didn’t have a big support system. It wasn't because my friends and family didn’t care; it was because they didn’t know how to deal with an autistic person. Every autistic person is different, even if they’ve met others with autism that has nothing to do with me. For some reason, people don’t think that black girls can have autism. I’ve met an awesome online autism community that have support me and helped me better understand  my condition and myself. I also have a few close friends who mean the world to me because they love me for the person inside the autism. I send my thanks out to each & every one of them.

Also, you mention that you have created several children books -- please tell us what made you interested in creating books for children, how creating illustrations has helped you and others? How can people purchase and support your books?

I have always drawn and painted. When I wasn’t talking to anyone, I was either drawing or painting. It was my safe space. Art therapy is very effective because it’s easier for me to express and feel my emotions through drawing than speaking. The latest book I illustrated is called ‘My Melanin’ by Renita Pagan. It is available on Amazon. Being an illustrator has helped me release good and bad emotions that didn’t have a place to go unless I put them down on paper.

What is your advice to others that are dealing with autism? 

My advice for others living with autism is to never put limitations on yourself. Don’t let others put limitations on you either because God puts no limitations on you. If the passion is there, you can do it. On the harder days, just remember that things always get better even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

Many people don't know how autism can affect a person's life -- share with us what you would want others to know about autism and how they can help. 

Autism affects each person differently. It impacts every aspect of life, your social skills, your coping skills, and your ability to comprehend information. The way you can help someone with autism is to get to know them. You should find out their interests, figure out their triggers, find out what makes them happy, and do not ridicule or make ignorant assumptions. Just ask questions and educate yourself.


Message from Ayanna’s dad:

“Ayanna was recently signed with an agency in New York for print and commercial modeling. She’s always been a character and she loves to dance, impersonate people and make people laugh. We are hoping to get her a tv & film agent next. She has a really positive attitude towards life. She could have just had back to back seizures and as soon as she has the energy she’s smiling and trying to cheer people up. She handles it better than me.”


To stay up to date with Ayanna follow her on instagram @phenomenallyautisticIf you have a story that you've been wanting to share or would like to recommend someone you know, please click here. As always, thank you for being a part of the Stories that Matter family


1 comment



Muchas gracias. ?Como puedo iniciar sesion?

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