In honor of Autism Awareness Month, we're celebrating the extraordinary abilities of individuals with ASD. I hope these profiles spark inspiration for promoting positive behavior and encouraging augmentative modes of expression in people with ASD. The more we learn about and understand individuals on the spectrum, the richer and more rewarding our relationships with them will become.
Kyle Coleman, who for most of his life spoke only a few words, began music therapy at age 20. Quickly the sessions ignited his latent musical ability, and soon he began expressing himself with his perfect-pitch voice. Watch this video about Kyle and other people on the spectrum who have special skills, and check out samples of songs from Kyle's charity album that was released with the support of the UK’s National Autistic Society on World Autism Awareness Day (April 2).
Writer and artist Daniel Tammet has both high-functioning autism and synesthesia, a condition that causes him to perceive numbers, words, and colors as interrelated. For Daniel, the letter L is blue and the number 1 is a “flash of white light.” This remarkable ability enhances his mental capacity to the degree that he once recited the first 22,000 digits of pi in five hours to a T from memory. Watch Daniel’s TED Talk to find out more about the phenomenal way in which he perceives the world.
An artist with ASD has created a new symbol for autism. As simple in design as a peace sign, the symbol is intended as an alternative to the multicolored-puzzle symbol for autism. The designer says that depicting the letter A outside a box is a “positive message to send in support of diversity.”
Stephen Wiltshire, a London artist with autism, crafts intricately detailed cityscapes that are exhibited all over the world. Visit The Stephen Wiltshire Gallery to discover more about how Stephen communicates through visual art, as well as music.
In the video below, Karen Schoenhals, who has Asperger’s, talks about the difficulties she had with expressing her emotions as a kid, and how learning to play an instrument had a positive effect on her social development. This video exemplifies that, in spite of her early struggles, Karen’s capacity for language makes her an exceptionally articulate spokesperson on things that help people with Asperger’s connect.
I hope these profiles of these enormously talented people will enhance your understanding of the varied interests, skill sets, and learning styles of individuals on the spectrum, and enrich your interaction with the people in your care. And if you haven't yet, be sure to check out our ASD Resources