Autism and art

Art is a significant part of our family life.  Both my daughters exhibit natural talent to create and draw, something that I look upon with awe and wonderment and of course motherly pride. 

For my younger daughter who has aspergers her art is important to her sense of wellbeing and happiness as well as a way of communicating her inner emotions and feelings that she often struggles to express.  Her ability to observe even the most intricate detail whereever we go and her ability to appreciate architecture and design is a talent that we are keen to foster.

As part of this we try and show her the work of different artists and designers.  One of our most recent introductions is the autistic savant, Stephen Wiltshire, a British artist who draws and paints incredibly detailed cityscapes.  One of his most recent works is the creation of a 250ft long panoramic drawing of New York which was done from memory and is on display at JK airport.  

Here is a video clip of Stephen working on his drawing of New York which I hope you find as inspring as I did.


You can read more about Stephen Wiltshire and his art at

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6 Responses to Autism and art

  1. Beth says:

    I have always been hugely drawn ( pardon the pun!) to the therapeutic benefits of art and there is a huge amount of ‘ outsider art’ out there which is just so inspiring and has often helped people on their journey of recovery. I wish I had the skills to to paint what is on my head onto paper… it just never quite works out like that! My son ( 4 years, AS) used to love his drawing and painting and I am so glad to have kept his early ‘ work.’ It is rare now he will draw or paint at all and often when he does, his perfectionism steps in and he gains no enjoyment from it any more ,sadly. In 6 months, the only 2 pictures he has seen through to their completion are both pencil drawings -( seems happier with pencil as ‘ mistakes’ can be erased, colours don’t run and the nib doesn’t leak through the paper)one of an abacus and one of a plastic ruler ( with most of the increment lines perfectly placed.) My hobby is working with wool ( in raw form or in yarn form ) and he does enjoy making patterns from this and he also won the ‘ Easter hat’ prize at his school….it really was a fabulous hat, with everything so perfectly placed and symmetrical and logical .. no slap dash application of tissue paper and plastic chickens for my boy :D I think like ‘ Blue sky’ he has a growing appreciation of architecture…. particularly when he is highly anxious and we are out he will ‘ follow the lines’ of buildings and says he loves ‘ straight lines’- he seems to particularly like the rather impressive town hall in the town centre.So , I think he is still very creative, so I hope he continues to enjoy these creative outlets. And, like your son, Aspie in the family, there are always design programs on the computer too…. :)

    • Aspie in the family says:

      Thanks for your fabulous comment Beth. Its interesting because my aspergers daughter (I have a girl and boy on the spectrum) also prefers to use pencils and crayons because she has more control and accuracy. She gets frustrated at the messiness of paint work. But when she admires paintings, its the oils (and sculptures) that she loves looking at, at the moment. It’ll be interesting to see how she develops in this area. As you say there are lots of ways to be creative, one of which are the art and graphics tablets that I want to look into. PS Love your blog; have added it to my blog roll. Deb x

  2. Blue sky says:

    My eldest was a prolific artist for about ten years but sadly my younger two with special needs have no interest at all, which is a such a shame as it is therapeutic and there are endless possibilities for projects and activities. I was not into art, but I did love architecture and my parents used to take me to places like Bath where I would spend hours sketching doors and windows and other details.

    • Aspie in the family says:

      I wasn’t into art either though I love looking at art and I particularly love patterns, fabrics and upholstery. My son isn’t interested in art either; he struggles with his hands and can’t manipulate things in his fingers very well though I have noticed him designing things out of lego on the computer. Maybe the computer offers another way to access art and design?

  3. Jazzygal says:

    Impressive guy. My guy loves art too and can be quite creative. I’ve been battling with him the last few days to get off xbox and into an art project we have in mind! No you so far!

    xx Jazzy

    • Aspie in the family says:

      I never fail to be impressed by Stephen Wiltshire’s ability to draw from memory – its amazing. I thought he was a brilliant role model to show to my daughter, to show her what can be achieved. Good luck with your art project!

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