Kicking And Masking

Self Portrait Collection

This self portrait expressed my feelings about the requirements of social interactions put on autistic people specifically. But I think a lot of people can relate to the frustrations I have with social expectations.

“Kicking and Masking” is part of a *very limited printing* self portrait collection. Each digital self-portrait is printed on 8″ by 10″ paper and is limited to 3-4 prints each, signed on the back.

Taste What You’ve Done To Me

Self Portrait Collection

“Consume me as I have been consumed by thoughts of you. Taste what you’ve done to me.”

I tend to be… obsessive… in relationships. For autistic people, other people can be a special interest. Allistic people, typically, cannot match the sort of passion and intensity that I bring to the table. And that’s okay, that’s healthy, but sometimes I crave the same sort of attention that I give out. And I’m sure that can be true for people who aren’t autistic, too. I think there’s a universal craving to be met with the same effort you give.

“The Softer Side” is part of a *very limited printing* self portrait collection. Each digital self-portrait is printed on 8″ by 10″ paper and is limited to 3-4 prints each, signed on the back.

The Softer Side

Self Portrait Collection

This is obviously a fantasy self-portrait, but I think it’s one of the most accurate. Liz, forest creature, protector of cats, loves gardening and dancing to the beat of her own drum; catches her horns on everything, quite the klutz. The softest side of me, rarely seen in real life because of masking and social expectations. Fuck capitalism and social hierarchies.

Let’s all live in the woods and spend our days making art and music and trading food from our gardens.

“The Softer Side” is part of a *very limited printing* self portrait collection. Each digital self-portrait is printed on 8″ by 10″ paper and is limited to 3-4 prints each, signed on the back.

Treasure Map

Self Portrait Collection

This is a universal issue, it doesn’t matter if you’re autistic or allistic, gay or straight, whatever. In every relationship—even just friendships—there comes a point when you have to ask yourself just how vulnerable you are willing to get with no guarantee that it’s going to be worth it.

“Treasure Map” is part of a *very limited printing* self portrait collection. Each digital self-portrait is printed on 8″ by 10″ paper and is limited to 3-4 prints each, signed on the back.

The Coolest Self-Portrait

Self Portrait Collection

Here’s an older self portrait (that I don’t have to censor). It was one of the first self portraits I did when I got my iPad. I know it’s dorky, but I was feeling very cool in legal weed states.

Other than figuring out I’m autistic, pot is one of the best things I’ve done for my autistic brain. I don’t know how much it helps other AuDHD folks, so I’m hesitant to recommend, but it helps me with sensory overload and anxiety.

I don’t have many regrets in life. I don’t like regrets. But if I could go back in time I’d tell 8-year-old Liz she’s autistic and I’d tell16-year-old Liz that her teachers are lying and pot is just fine. 🤣 (I’d probably also pop in on 13-year-old Liz and tell her she might be a little gay. 😏)

“The Coolest Self-Portrait” is part of a *very limited printing* self portrait collection. Each digital self-portrait is printed on 8″ by 10″ paper and is limited to 3-4 prints each, signed on the back.

It’s That Time Again

Self Portrait Collection

I keep going back and forth between “It’s That Time Again” and “It’s About That Time”. Either way, this selfie is about autistic masking, how it feels when that mask slips, and the vulnerability that follows. It’s also about the inevitability of a mask slipping with friends or even choosing to take off the mask, realizing it was a mistake, but being unable to put it back on.

“It’s That Time Again” is part of a *very limited printing* self portrait collection. Each digital self-portrait is printed on 8″ by 10″ paper and is limited to 3-4 prints each, signed on the back.

All the Things She Said

Inside The Artist's Mind

Sometimes I am completely blind to social boundaries. I’m unsure of which things are okay to say to siblings versus friends versus parents versus acquaintances versus a married friend. Sometimes I share things that feel intimate or personal to others but don’t feel that way to me. Sometimes I can say something that I 100% believe in that moment… but later I don’t think the same way. Sometimes I don’t know that it seems like I’m flirting with someone until days later, years in some cases. Sometimes I am in a comfortable place physically and forget that I’m not around emotionally safe people.

It’s like if everything you could say in a given social situation was on a string and all of the strings were tangled together in a messy ball. You go to teach for the “right” string and you end up with something else altogether.

If you’re ever in a social situation and you hear someone say something and you think to yourself, “there’s no way she didn’t know that was inappropriate.” There is a way. It’s called being autistic.

❤ Liz

It Is Only Day 7 and I Am Already Exhausted

artist life

Autism Awareness Month, the month of April, is exhausting. I am autistic. I am also the parent of an autistic child. I am not, however, an “Autism Mom.” I am just an autistic person raising another autistic person.

I can’t speak for other autistic people, nor would I want to. I am not a racial minority, and I’m not nonverbal–most of the time. So I definitely cannot speak to those lived experiences.

But here are some blanket autism facts about all autistic people, that a lot of allistic people often aren’t aware of:

  • Autistic children grow into autistic adults. Hi, nice to meet you. I’m Liz, an autistic 38 year old.
  • Autism is not an intellectual disability itself, though it can cooccur with intellectual disabilities.
  • Autism is genetic. “80% of autistic risk” and I hate how this is worded “is traced to inherited genes.” (And that’s a stat from Autism Speaks–who I loathe, but you can google it. There are other sources that say pretty much the same thing. Some of them are medical journals. But I don’t have the attention span to go through those right now.)
  • Autism is not a spectrum that everyone is on. It is a spectrum only for those of us that are autistic, because we all present our autistic traits differently. Not everyone is “a little autistic.”

So why is Autism Awareness Month so exhausting for me an many other autistic people? Most of us are Autistic Advocates all year round just by existing. However, Autism Awareness Month is a special kind of hell presented by friends and family who are well-meaning, but can still be harmful. I have seen so many of my peers, professional artists, donate paintings to, or take part in, fundraising events raising money for autistic people. Yet, there are no autistic people involved in the event or the organizations that they’re raising money for! Then I go to the websites of the organizations and they usually have totally cringe language like autism is a thing that you can get and how it is so difficult for families who are “inflicted with autism”. Gag me.

Then I see celebrities who I respect and admire giving money to organizations that were started by a father who once said that he wished his autistic child had drowned. (Here’s the research for that.) And then there are people sharing puzzle pieces and fundraising efforts by Autism Speaks–a hate group more than anything. (I’m really way too tired to go into all of that. There is a great article by the Washington Post about it, though. You can read that here.)

I am asking for one thing from the people who want to be involved in Autism Awareness Month and be supportive of Autistic people. Before you share or post or get involved, do your research. Make sure the organizations that you’re working with and/or promoting are actually run by, and are actually run for, autistic people. Check the language, check who is on the board, check whether the wording is centered around the parents or is actually centered around the autistic people.

Liz Zook
(name might soon be changed)

An Open Letter to My GP

Life and Happiness

Dear Doc,

It was really dismissive of you to say, when I presented you with information about POTS, that it’s “really popular right now.”

Artist Liz Zook and her rescue cat Callie.

The thing about diseases becoming “really popular,” and maybe this isn’t something they teach in medical school, is that most Americans live in such poor health and have so little access to healthcare that they will take any information they can get. Whether that information comes from TikTok or google, they feel it’s urgent when they do find information that might pertain to them, because it’s been so long since they’ve had real help. And some people have been so dismissed and discouraged so often by doctors that it’s a courageous act to even present new information to their doctors. Usually this dismissal leads to us figuring out on our own how to mitigate symptoms. When our symptoms eventually become too much to handle on our own and we break down to seek help, knowing that help could end up being detrimental to our mental well-being, we are berated for not coming in to a doctor sooner.

Are diseases becoming “so popular right now” because everyone in America is a hypochondriac? Or is it more likely that people who have all the symptoms of these diseases are just now finding out about them through social media because doctors are so dismissive and healthcare is so hard to come by? I’m thinking basic logic tells you it’s the latter.

And why is it an inconvenience for you to check for the symptoms of any disease that any patient presents? Isn’t it literally your job to make sure that we’re in the best health we can be? What’s the problem with running down a list of symptoms with your patient and keeping your personal opinion about the popularity of a disease to yourself? Wouldn’t it be better to at least check? Even if the only reason to check the symptoms is to put them at ease, isn’t that still the right thing to do?

And just so you know, autistic people in general are already scared of doctors. We are already dismissed and treated as less than by our peers, our loved ones, and our friends. So for an autistic person to confide in you with symptoms is a big fucking deal. You should feel honored. In fact, you should feel honored that anyone in America trusts any doctor enough to treat them at all, but I guess they’re too busy being dismissing our concerns.


Just Another American That’s Only Allotted 15 Minutes To Talk About All of My Health Problems From the Previous Year