Lena is an autistic illustrator and painter form Quebec. Lena is the artist behind the artwork for our 2022 Holiday Card. You can find more of her work on her website www.sourireanime.com
Please tell us about yourself, what are your interests and hobbies?
I am a 30-year-old woman named Lena Baldoni. I work 4 days a week at the veterans hospital, where I have also painted 2 murals. I am an international artist, with paintings in Singapore, Dubai, Spain, England and across Canada and the USA. I participate in track and field, snowshoeing and swimming with Special Olympics. In 2011 I represented Canada in Greece.
I love cooking for my family and making them laugh. Every weekend I enjoy a sleepover at my sisters. We go for brunch and enjoy shopping.
At what age were you diagnosed with autism?
I was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2. My mother had a daycare and noticed that at one I was not hitting the milestones as I should. My pediatrician ruled out the usual problems first and then ended with neurological.
Is there anything you want to share about being autistic?
The thing that I feel I am missing out on would be driving a car. I have tried in a parking lot with my sister and enjoyed it. Understanding people sometimes is also difficult. I am happy for friends and family that can reword a question so I am able to answer.
What is unique about you, and what are some of your strengths?
There is only one Lena Baldoni and I am proud of this. I have so many interests and experiences that I can draw on.
With the way my mind is wired I can super focus on everything in which I am interested. In my paintings the attention to details is shown. Others may not put the plug switch on a wall but I do, because of details. When I visit somewhere I always see different things, they will end up in a future painting.
We all have things that are challenging for us, what are some of yours?
Midnight is a massive thing for me. Late evenings make me extremely uncomfortable. Going to concerts unfortunately I stress on the time so I end up not enjoying the show. Change in routine without notice is not fun. If I have ample notice and time to adjust to the idea it will be fine.
What role does your family and friends play in your day to day life?
My family has been amazing. They look for new experiences for me. They also push me for my independence. My mom even made me an apartment in her house, with a kitchen. We have two suppers a week where I cook for her. My sister even took me parachuting. My family stands up for me in situations that I do not understand. They always have my back.
Has your life been impacted by Coronavirus?
Covid has been difficult since all my in-person activities were canceled. I did a few activities on zoom, but it was not the same. After about 6 months I stopped engaging with zoom.
Along with my free time I painted a lot. One of my paintings “Thank You” went around the world. I donated the painting to the hospital where I work and made prints for all the police and fire stations in my area. We also made 3000 post cards and for the past 2.5 years have been handing them out to all essential workers.
What are your some of your goals and hope for the future?
My goals for the future are to continue my art, challenge my strength as an athlete, and educate people about individuals like me.
My future looks amazing. I am looking forward to more travel, and many new experiences. Many new paintings will come from my imagination.
I am a grown up at 30 years old, now I am having my best life.
What advice would you give to another autistic person?
Take it one day at a time. Try new things, you will know when you find your interest. Try not to worry to much on the future, that’s what parents are for. You do you and all will work out. Breathe.
What five words best describe you to the world?
Artiste, athlete, humanitarian, funny and hard worker
In one word, how would your friends and family describe you?
Why are you interested in sharing your experiences?
I enjoy educating people and showing that we are not all the same. Sometimes being different is a Superpower. The more people see us and not just the label, the better things will be.