When Leland Lee was diagnosed with autism as a toddler, experts told his family that he would never walk, talk, or function in society.
Around the same time, Leland started showing a striking affinity for the arts. He created hundreds of drawings in just a few months. When he was seven, experts from his school district conducted an evaluation and asked him to replicate Impressionist and Surrealist masterpieces, which he re-created
with ease. He also displayed an early ability to create his own interpretations of paintings such as Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles
Through his talent and with the help of early intervention therapies, hard work, and the love of his family, Leland defied the prognosis that he would never do any of the things that neurotypical people do. He learned to walk, talk, swim, and excel at guitar playing, and he has become a world-class artist
. In fact, his work is being featured this week at the Vatican's international conference on autism
Leland expresses his inner world through his talent, using vibrant colors, depth, and detail to communicate with the world. On his website, his parents share the inspiring message that while Leland and his family struggle with tremendous hardship, “when someone has autism or any other disability, they tend to have some amazing talents.” Leland's family urges people to see someone with autism not “as a freak who will never do anything useful, but rather someone who can do something great if only someone [helps] them reveal their extraordinary capabilities.”
Learn more about Leland in “Autism Expert Helps Autistic Youths Transition Into Adulthood.”