I forgot to mention PJ’s art in “Inspired By Autism”. On the cover of the book, the art work that I am proudly displaying was done by PJ. For a period of time, he was very interested in creating pictures with beautiful, bright colors.
We accidentally discovered this interest when I was working with him with coloring books and crayons. No matter what the picture on the page was, PJ always colored the same way, with no regard for lines or the actual picture. People, animals, landscapes all looked the same when he was finished with the picture. Other than carefully choosing his colors, he seemed not to care what he was coloring.
I was constantly explaining the pictures, “This is a boy; This is a house; This is a car. etc. We have to not color past the lines.” I would hold his hand and try to guide him to the correct way of coloring a picture. Our sessions always ended with both of us being frustrated and me feeling more and more depressed.
One day, it dawned on me to quit upsetting both of us. He loved coloring, but he wanted to do it his way. I quit giving him coloring books and started giving him plain paper, crayons and markers. Lo and behold, he enjoyed coloring again. His style of coloring was mixing bright colors in a way that pleased him. His art was the only thing that he did not have to be prompted to do and he worked on it every day.
He did not see lines in pictures, so once I quit trying to force this, I could see his vision. I had to change my perception of how he should color. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale said that “Once your perception of an object changes, the object itself changes.” Same thing with people, especially people with autism. Autism forces you out of your box and your comfort zone!
I loved seeing PJ sit and work on his art. I even sold a few pictures, trying to prove that he did have some skill, because most people were either intimidated or “put off” by his strange behavior. However, my dreams of him being this great artist came to an end because after a few months, he totally lost interest in the activity that I was so proud of. I have not been able to inspire any interest in him again.
It was important to me that his art be the cover of “Inspired By Autism”. My publisher felt that I should be shown featuring his art. That is how the cover of the book came about. The cover was “Inspired By PJ”.
I would like to close with a comment from Mary O’Neil, the director of Burger School for students with autism, the school PJ attended for most of his life. She wrote the foreword in “Inspired by Autism” and this is part of it.
“We learned from PJ the important lessons in life, to love the raindrops on our faces, to keep the music in our heart and to color each of our days with the brightest crayons in the box.”
Until next time; May the Power of God protect you; May the love of God enfold you.