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The Awe in Autism: A Spectrum of Creativity

The Awe in Autism: A Spectrum of Creativity

“Mamita and Rabbit” by artist Christian Early

This post is a bit long, but I’ll ask you to bear with me. My mind and heart are full to the brim, and there’s much I want to share with you. (And, OK, I’m notoriously long-winded — at least that’s what my three sons say … though that’s not quite the way they put it.)

Kim and I hosted our very first live autism arts exhibition on Saturday, and we’re just blown away by the responses. It began with a gallery reception, where the works of eight artists on the spectrum were featured (while everyone enjoyed good food and wine, generously donated by local supporters!)

The program that followed included poets and musicians on the spectrum, as well as film, storytelling and other cool stuff. The emails we’ve received give a better description than anything I could say myself, so I’ll share a few excerpts with you:

  • What a spectacular event …The exhibit was exceptional, the crowd was a lot of fun, and the multi-faceted program you put on was fabulous…” 
  • “The entire event was eye opening, inspiring, informative and life-giving. My sister says she is thinking about those on the spectrum and her own life in a whole new way.”
  • “So rarely does anyone portray the talents of artists with autism correctly in its full splendor!” 
  • “I really have almost too many good things to say about the event as a whole …”
  • “It was a great forum for people and artists on the spectrum to meet and appreciate each other’s work — and for others who were on the outskirts to understand more about the experience of having autism.”
  • “You guys have tapped into a well deep and pure. Obviously there is a hunger for what you’re doing.”

It is truly the inspiration, encouragement and support we’ve had from you, our online friends, that gave us the courage and the confidence to pull this off. Whether you’re just a Twitter follower or Facebook fan, or you’re someone who’s gone out of your way to let us know you’re behind our efforts, every one of you has been part of this. And we’re not planning on stopping here.

While our site celebrates the creativity inspired by autism, we certainly realize that not every person with autism will paint beautiful pictures, write exquisite poetry, or play an instrument. But we do believe that every single person, child or adult, on the autism spectrum has great worth and contributes something of value to the world. Let me share a story I heard this week:

Teri, the mother of one of the talented singers who performed on Saturday, told me that her daughter attends a
school for autism where the children are quite mixed in terms of their abilities. Teri described one little boy who cannot speak, and who struggles with ordinary tasks – and she told me that every day when she takes her daughter to school, and again when she picks her up, she greets this little boy by name. One day recently, the boy – who had showed neither affection nor interest in the past – walked up to Teri and took her fingers in his hand – and he kissed them. That was it. There was no stroke of a brush or musical note. But at that moment, Teri explained to me, she realized that little boy was a gift – a gift to her, from God.

There are many in this world who, for various reasons, will never achieve what we consider to be “greatness.” What I’m learning is that I need to reconsider my concept of what it means to be great. I’m only beginning to grasp this, but I’m convinced there can be as much genuine greatness in a single act – like a kiss on someone’s fingertips – as in all the literature and poetry, all the music, all the paintings and drawings in history.

The human soul is made to communicate, and to create. The boy who kissed Teri’s fingers not only communicated his feelings, but he expressed himself uniquely, inspiring another human being in a way he couldn’t have imagined. If a work of art can be defined as something that allows us to see from another perspective, inviting wonder and evoking a personal response from deep within … well then, I believe that kiss was a work of art — and that the child who created it is himself a divine masterpiece.

(We’ll post our video of The Awe in Autism: A Spectrum of Creativity, on our site very soon; meanwhile visit us on Facebook and check it out what one of our guests created!)

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