Autism … offers a chance for us to glimpse an awe-filled vision of the world that might otherwise pass us by.” — Dr. Colin Zimbleman, from the-art-of-autism.com.
Jeremy Sicile-Kira sees the world in vibrant colors: alluring oranges and yellows, calming purples and blues and soothing greens. And for the first time, the autistic artist is sharing that vision with the rest of us.
“Color is evident in everything to me,” says Jeremy, 27, whose form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) includes the symptom of “grapheme-color synesthesia,” a neurological phenomenon that causes him to perceive letters, words and even emotions in colors.
“Autism affects each person differently,” Jeremy told NBC News. “For me it means being stuck in a body that doesn’t work well and not being able to speak. It means also frankly being overwhelmed by sound and light.”
Jeremy has managed to turn that aggressive assault on his senses into art – a series of abstract portraits in which he portrays people through the colors that their faces, names and personalities create for him. This month — Autism Awareness Month — his work received its first public exposure at an art show in San Diego.
The use of art to help people with autism express themselves has gained momentum in recent years, and produced some notable success stories.
Self-taught autistic artist Jessy Park, for example, was recognized with an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in 2003 for her pop art architectural paintings, and Susan Brown, who was diagnosed with autism as a child, has received considerable acclaim for her paintings and sculptures.
Temple Grandin, a professor of animal science at Colorado State University whose triumph over autism was the subject of the award-winning 2010 biopic “Temple Grandin,” says art helped lead her to “a very interesting career.”
“Art skills became the basis of my career designing (humane) livestock facilities,” the author of “Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism” told NBC News this week. “I encourage all parents to take the skills a child is good at and develop them. Kids with autism have uneven skills. They are good at one subject and bad at another. Areas of skill are often art, math or music.”
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