A Saskatchewan artist living with autism spectrum disorder will be appearing on the big screen this week in Los Angeles.
April Griffin from Arborfield, Sask., was featured in the documentary Connected: A Film About Autistic People shot in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Griffin owns April Griffin Artist Studios. She uses her art to raise awareness about autism and was nominated for the 2014 International Naturally Autistic People's award for community achievement.
She travelled to Scotland to attend the award ceremony and to be Canada's Ambassador at the Autistic Network of Community Achievement's (ANCA) World Autism Festival. It was there that she was asked if she could be filmed for a documentary.
"I didn't expect to be in a film," Griffin said.
The documentary chronicles a week in October 2014 when the ANCA World Autism Festival took place outside of Canada for the first time and profiles many of the festival delegates.
The film features Griffin's acceptance speech after she won the community achievement award and interviewed her about her accomplishments as an artist.
"It has a really powerful message I think because it's people with autism all over the world speaking with our own voices, not people talking for us," explained Griffin.
"It encourages people to focus on strengths and talents and not just what we can't do and I think that's very important."
The film will be screening at the Life Fest Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Hoboken International Film Festival in Middletown, New York.
Griffin will be a part of a question and answer panel discussion at each festival. She said she is very excited to be able to speak and advocate for autism to help educate people about the disorder.
"I want to see this [film] out in the public. I hope it gets a good distributor because it's a positive message about autism and we really need that to counter a lot of the myths," Griffin said. "I hope this brings autism out of the shadows and into light and not something we whisper but something we talk about."