Autism and creativity.

When I was a child I always wished I had talents beyond what I learned in the classroom and I admired my dad very much as he was very talented and I remember as a kid he would busy himself for hours at a time with his drawings and his models made from his own materials. As I tried to follow him I realized that I was average in many ways. I did not have any real exceptional abilities and I did not develop any special skills like my dad. My father had an ability to draw and was very talented as he was most certainly an artist and he also had attention to detail in crafting his models. He built from scratch replicas of Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St Louis airplane and a WW II aircraft carrier with aircraft and a construction site with a tower crane from plain card board and oak tag sheets and tooth picks. He had the vision in his head and he worked off photographs and was able to bring the raw materials to life in his creations. He certainly had talent but would never admit it. He was very humble and did his work as a hobby that contented him and made him happy. My mom also had talent and she was gifted with a beautiful voice and she loved to sing and I remember when she would sing lullabies to me at night I would say to her how beautiful her voice was. It was very easy to sleep to such beautifully sung songs. I still hear her beautiful voice in my mind if I think real hard and focus on those long distant days.

I tried to find things as a child that would help me expand and grow and I did the customary things like color by number with paint and lite brite art and etch a sketch and spirograph. I then graduated to building models from kits which were usually racing cars and I enjoyed building radios from prefabricated kits. I never really pursued any of these activities for a considerable length of time but did enjoy them in my childhood.

Knowing how important it is to develop interests and hobbies I wanted to make sure Maria and I expose Matthew to art, music, reading and writing. At a relatively young age he became interested in the computer and would love to do paintbrush and would create his artwork and save them to a folder. He enjoyed drawing all different types of things. Some abstract and some pretty distinct. He would draw a neighborhood of homes or a flow of cars in traffic or a crowd of people or a sporting event like basketball. His abstracts were more an array of colors in different patterns and designs. As he started to develop his interest he would seek rolls of paper to draw on and would concentrate on things that were continuous like roads with buildings and homes and cars. He would number the buildings sequentially and would have odd numbers on one side and even numbers on the opposite side. His drawings on the roles of paper were detailed and very specific. He loves his roles of paper and will usually busy himself for hours drawing and coloring on them. He must have 20 rolls of paper completely drawn from one side to the other. He developed an interest in drawing maps also and liked viewing the different road atlases and the maps of the United States and of the World. He has an appetite for learning and loves working with the computer to formulate lists. Most everything he does is connected to the creation of a list. He loves Walt Disney and he did a google search of all the Disney movies from the beginning to current and he created a list of all the Walt Disney movies created.

Matthew also developed an interest in music and has navigated his way on Rhapsody and managed to create music play lists of his favorite artists like Elvis Presley, The Cars, Abba, Coldplay, Meatloaf, Elton John, The Beatles, Badfinger and so many others. He enjoys listening to music and loves to sing and I know my mom would be very proud of the way he sings. He has such poise and can remember all the words of whatever song he sings. He has a good memory when it comes to his singing.

Since I have been writing actively and posting to my blog, this very blog it has given me inspiration and passion because I am writing from my heart and I am pouring out my soul and recalling all my experiences from my early childhood to my current day life and all the joys and tragedies in between. I am revealing myself and my thoughts and fears and my gratitude and my purpose in life and the 2 people in my life who mean everything to me, Maria and Matthew. I have learned a lot in the process and feel I am doing a good thing and will continue to do so. This is the creative side that has developed and it has come about due to tragedy.

In the wake of my dad’s unexpected suicide I felt this incredible pain and very sad void in my life. I needed to do something to explain what was going on in my mind and what I needed to do to go forward and take care of my family. I needed to come to terms with my dad’s tragic death and my own internal struggles. I needed to explain what life is like for us in raising our son who is a wonder and a joy and how he is affected by autism and how we help him and cope with the challenges that autism brings. We are learning everyday and it is a road of endless possibilities with so many options. We are working together to bring out the best in our son with the aid of his teachers at school. We feel we can be doing more for him but we are doing what we can and also relying on our son to help us in finding things that interest him.

He seems to enjoy expressing himself through writing like I have and he also has started a blog which he writes and he feels good after he writes a story. I enjoy reading his posts and am very proud of him and I realize that though Matthew is autistic he has a very creative side to him and I believe this can be attributed to his asperger’s. I do believe there is a link between autism and creativity. We will always encourage Matthew to challenge himself and to find things that interest him and draw upon his talents. It is nice to find interests in art, music, reading and writing and we are hopeful that Matthew will flourish and grow through his expressive and artistic side and we are delighted for him.

Edward D. Iannielli III

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