Montreal Non-Profit Artists, Artisans and Entrepreneurs with Autism Fair – Montreal

Aspis Rencontres, a new Montreal non-profit organization, held its first fair featuring artists, artisans and entrepreneurs with autism.

This unique event provides a chance for people living on the spectrum to showcase their exceptional work and initiatives.

« It makes me proud to show my art and to be an autism advocate, » said Kenza Deschenes-Kherchi, a jewelry artist attending the fair.

Deschenes-Kherchi is on the autism spectrum, like most of the people manning the booths at the fair. She wants passing visitors to take the time to get to know her.

“Seeing that people with autism have talents; they are not just autistic people, they have talents,” Deschênes-Kherchi said.

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The show is organized by Sylvain Bernier, founder of Aspis-Rencontres.

The non-profit organization holds weekly meetings with neurotypical people and people with autism.

The initiative was sparked by Bernier’s recent diagnosis of Asperger.

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He says his diagnosis helped him understand why, even though he had a successful career as a college professor, he still had problems interacting with others at work.

He said he wanted to prevent others from having to fight unnecessarily, so that « young people get this experience in this safe environment and are ready to fight the world, because it is a fight ».

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He wants others to make an effort to understand neuro-divergent people like him, people whose brains are just wired a little differently.

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« Come see that autism isn’t like ‘Rain Man’ or whatever they see on TV, » Bernier said.

Marie-Ève ​​Lefebvre, an autism researcher at the University of Montreal, agrees. She says it’s important for neurotypical people to be open.

“It’s part of the social inclusion that is everyday life,” says Lefebvre. « Having opportunities like that, to be more and more normal, it just makes it easier for them. »

As for Deschênes-Kherchi, she wants everyone to understand that even though we are all different, we can always find common ground.

“Sometimes people are afraid of people with autism, but they shouldn’t be afraid,” Deschênes-Kherchi said. « They should be able to bond, because we’re good people. »

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