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Old 02-02-10, 03:49 PM
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jpohl jpohl is offline
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Lightbulb Art and autism

I haven't posted in some time since our youngest was diagnosed with autism last summer. It threw me for a bit of a loop, but knowing is a also a relief. It explained much.. and all the years of sleep loss. Melatonin (a naturally occurring chemical that regulates sleep and that people with autism don't seem to produce in the same quantities) is starting to help.

It may explain all my late night posts on this forum a year ago while I was waiting for him sleep.

It has been quite a learning curve, but our three year old is getting help and making some progress.

For all the challenge autism can bring with it many positive traits. Honesty, an inability to lie is just one of them. (If genetics play a role I have to wonder if this is where my tendency to be honest to a fault comes from, or why my husband is so good with numbers... or why he almost failed kindergarten before they figured out he had a genius IQ. )

Autism can occur in countless ways and degrees and is different for each individual, but I have noticed that good artists and people with autism share many common traits:

1. the ability to focus one thing for an extended period.
2. sensitivity to light and detail
3. being content to live in their own world and happy to be alone.
4. an ability to sense pattern.
5. seeing the world in surprising and unique ways.
6. a tendency to enjoy repetitive tasks.
7. a few have photographic memories.

This is a recent example of an extraordinary artist with autism:

I haven't given up trying to start painting again. When my son was diagnosed one of the first things the doctor said was "I don't know how you managed for so long on your own." Now that we have help and are settling into new routines I may have more chance to work again for periods of time.

Studies indicate that genetics play a role. If I'm at some point on the far end of the spectrum perhaps there is a reason why painting has always helped me make sense of the world. Then again, my son's therapist says that perhaps we are all on the spectrum at some point.

Last edited by jpohl; 02-02-10 at 03:55 PM.
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Old 03-02-10, 05:10 PM
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RobM RobM is offline
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Hi Jennifer,
I guess having worked within the field of 'disabilities' it is not so much the disability that should be important but the ability.
Many, many years ago I watched a documentary on Stephen Wiltshire when he was very young, certainly not into his teens......
I was totally astounded by what he achieved. He was taken on a bus tour around London and shown various famous sights. He was then taken to a studio and asked to draw what he had seen........He drew the Houses of Parliament with the correct number of windows, not only that but the correct number of glazing bars for each window!! Following on from that he drew another aspect of London.........what an ability!!!!
One of my grandsons has Asperger syndrome, he has an enormous afinity with mathematics although he does talk with a very convincing American accent!!!
I think you are very brave sharing this and you and your husband (name?) have all my support.
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Old 19-02-10, 12:43 PM
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Hi Jennifer,
I have just joined the forum but when I saw your post I had to reply. I hope you have heard of Temple Grandin! if not definately check her out, she has a website she is an author and college professor at Colorado State. She is an amazing woman. There are also many videos and interviews online (her interviews on Fresh Air with Terry Gross are great). Good luck with your son and don't forget to take care of yourself also.
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Old 20-02-10, 02:53 PM
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PhilS PhilS is offline
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Thank you for sharing your experience with us. My brother-in-law has an autistic son. He told me his first reaction when they received the news from the doctor was self-pity (why us?). But now he feels that Loren has been one of the greatest blessings of his life. Loren isn't severely autistic. He has problems with speech and certain aspects of social interaction. But he is probably the happiest person I have ever met. He walks into a room and everybody smiles.
His intelligence runs in strange directions. He doesn't seem to be interested in art (though apparently he has a lot of talent), but he can quote the price differences for canned peas in every supermarket from California to Maine.
My brother-in-law says they are making progress in understanding autism. Maybe your son will turn out to have special abilities. Or maybe he will just be happy.
Let us know how it goes. And keep painting!
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Old 12-04-10, 09:44 AM
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Autism Arts which has a wide range of art by people on the spectrum. There is a wonderful savant artist featured there who uses amazing movement in his paintings, almost pure movement with form as virtually secondary.
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Old 17-04-10, 01:10 PM
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jim jim is offline
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well, jpohl, that explains why you disappeared off the forum; we were always entertained by your posts, especially the ones in the middle of the night.

we read temple grandin, and immediately recognized the artist in autism - we're all autists.

my kid was borderline autistic, i have all the symptoms, and so does jim, and we think this is what sets us apart as humans.

the autism rate is growing rapidly in the western world, and we will see a whole generation of autistic kids coming up. but i tend to see this as a good thing. they won't be able to participate in the bankrupting of modern society, won't take up the shallow values of the current rapacious generation, will always have a heart, won't lie, and won't deliberately hurt anyone. it'll be a totally different mindset, a real sea-change in humanity.

it's harder for you, of course, as it is harder for every parent to nurture difference rather than suppress it. but you'll grow more, and your kid will turn out to be a wonder, and the world will be a better place because of him and all the ones like him.

so, congratulations on your burden, and we hope you can bear it joyously.

jeanne and jim
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Old 07-05-10, 06:29 AM
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mona mona is offline
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Default Art and autism

Jennifer, this must not be easy, but I've just read over the wonderful supportive and caring responses left here for you, and hope that this helps you too. Your son is in the best hands he can be to have a Mom who is a creative person, and who will appreciate what makes him unique and special in the world. I'll keep it in my prayers for him, for you, and your family to thrive, and echo the sentiments of others to remember to take care of yourself too, and to keep on painting.

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Old 04-06-10, 06:21 PM
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jpohl jpohl is offline
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Thank you for all the wonderful responses, and I am very inspired by Temple's story (the last movie about her life is very moving) and I agree with Jim that there can be many positives. These are the people who think outside the box and maybe even the Eisteins and Edisons of the world (if is far more debilitating for others.) I don't know if Danny will be one of the 39 percent who will outgrow the symptoms enough to lose his diagnosis, but most artists must understand how a person can be happy living in a world of their own, so if this will be part of who he is that's okay.

Michael Lewis recently wrote a book about a doctor with aspergers and one glass eye who was one of the few people in the world to see the economic crash coming. He was smart enough to make a profit, but he had the integrity to try and warn people.

So many mothers of children with autism give up their own dreams, passions and identities to focus completely on their children. So many fall into depression or worse. I will let my little boy be an inspiration. I have to be a little selfish... painting helps to keep me sane. It may take me longer, but I intend to stick with it.

btw. If anyone hasn't read Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time it's an amazing book. Perhaps we are all the spectrum to a degree. That's one current theory.
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