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Art Expression is Map to Buried Treasure in Autism

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Art is life, and it can provide a window to understanding the perspective of those who are not verbal.

My daughter Sarah engaged in self-taught art expression during her earliest years and this gave us a window into knowing about how she perceived the world. She was only slightly verbal during that time; thanks to intensive in-home therapies she had some language ability.

At the very beginning of Sarah's earliest art experience her father would do hand over hand and draw with her, but she made him hit the road once she understood enough.

Sarah engaged in the art when she was quite mysterious, and then we all drew clues about her from her work. Doing such made the art so exciting, like a map that was taking us to the buried treasure. The riddle of Sarah's art is not easily explained, except if you know her life in context. The Year The Art Stopped has a lot of Sarah's early art, but not all of it.

During Sarah's earliest years the first set of pictures that cause such excitement happened when she was still in preschool. She would come home from school everyday and immediately go to her art supplies. She would do a bit of drawing and then bound around in a joyful dance for a while, and then she would so some more drawing. I curiously would look at the works; they were intriguing. Mostly because her interest and focus were both so complete. It was probably a couple weeks before I showed her teacher Barbara the work, the many pages of what looked like Sarah's own book. Barbara immediately recognized it for what it was. Sarah's replication of the entire Wyken, Blyken and Nod story. She had done all of it from memory, because the actual book had to remain at school. Sarah obviously liked the story very much and needed to have it at home! It really showed how capable my daughter could be.

All the works in her earliest years showed me how much she understood about all that she was taking in; at school, on the TV, from movies and video games. She could not always easily say how things made her feel because she was only slightly verbal, but she sure could draw what was on her mind.There is something else that excites me about Sarah's art. Beyond the fact that she was shown how to hold a pencil, and to learn to write and color, her depictions' style belongs to her alone. There was nobody around teaching her technique. I would see her using techniques that had never been taught to her. Some of those were showing perspective and creating shadows.

For fun, I developed t-shirts with some of her art and gave them to family and friends. That is because we hold so much value in Sarah's art and want to share. Sarah has really enjoyed the t-shirts and for a while it made her interested in drawing again. If she does begin to have an art interest and engagement similar to her earliest years, I cannot begin to imagine what the result might be. All I know is I will not unduly adulterate it with insisting that it fit with a certain techniqe or style; I will leave the riddle, the buried treasure, to those who view it.

Her art holds much meaning for those who know her in context of her life experience...In this writing I still leave you with a bit of guessing to do but that is what makes life interesting. Sarah incrementally stopped doing her art when she experienced worsening psychosis and developed symptoms similar to schizophrenia - at which point her engagement and enjoyment in art ceased. She is seventeen now and doing good.

No cost Hello, Dr. Wells

No cost The Year The Art Stopped


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