The Impact of Chasing Inspiration: Individuals of all ages with ASD

There are many venues to explore where one can pursue inspiration for the purposes of contributing to the world, and making a life of well-being. This article explores ‘inspiration’ and how individuals with ASD discovered their deep ‘inspiration’ through making their art. The art of Elaine Crowder, Trent Altman, Kevin Hosseini, and students at The Beacon Day School, and other artists who have autism will be featured at The Brilliance of Autism Exhibit at Autism One 2013 conference on May 21- 26.

Discovering one’s inspiration may require much work because quite often, inspiration may not easily be revealed during a time of significant life change. Thus, it is the dark days where inspiration must be proactively sought and pursued to develop a new life. School transition is one of life’s phases that require much work and planning especially when young adults and their families feel uncertainty and cannot see their way. This phase demands reconnection from a life that was once well-structured and now forever gone.

However so frightening, it is the time to create new opportunities and experience new growth and maturity. Yet, many parents find that their young adult’s lives often fall apart during this process. I certainly had this experience with my son and I refer to this phase as his transition birthday because it is a time of rebirth. With our best intentions in creating the new life, the in-between phase can be highly stressful for the young adult when depression, worry, and anger may emerge. If left unattended too long, the individual’s repressed toxic energy can be hazardous to health. I do not take this phase lightly. Yet, this is the time of life that demands constructing a new one, even for survival purposes, but more importantly, to live well and happy.

I can share how I approached my son’s life changes. I learned to tune into how he responded to energy levels, both negative and positive. I discovered when I shifted my perception from ‘this is horrible’ (i.e., my son exhibiting anger) to ‘something good can be tried here’ (pursuing an activity of enjoyment and inspiration). I visualize a person’s transition phase as a process similar to the Humpty Dumpty fairy tale, but in reverse where all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men put Humpty Dumpty together again. Any life situation regardless of how traumatizing, it can be turned around and headed in a new direction on a path for the better. I know this from clients’ feedback and my own life experience with my son.

Positively there is a remedy. I listen to my clients and their parents/advocates what it is they long for, what inspires the young adult, what do they enjoy, what activities make them feel alive? There is no way to feel creative and be bored at the same time. If too much boredom and inactivity can lead to anger and depression, then chasing creativity can optimize health, peace, and joy. Focus on those things that bring about well-being, enjoyment in productivity, and well living.

Dr. Judith Orloff, an energy psychiatrist and author of Positive Energy writes about the positive effects of pursuing inspiration? She explains how inspiration raises energy levels, improves health and produces a garden where creativity blossoms. Equally important, inspiration emotionally triggers optimism and enthusiasm.

Inspiration has indeed altered the lives of artists who have ASD and their advocates have beautifully described how inspiration through art making made a positive difference in their lives.

Elaine Crowder is a young woman in her 20s who creates abstract paintings to reflect global environmental problems and solutions. Her artwork is exquisite and offers the world her perspective, thus, she becomes part of the solution raising awareness of the world environmental crisis. She sees her artistic abilities enhanced by sensory processing issues and believes it intensifies her unique ability to paint what she sees. Because Elaine relates so well to people who have autism, she continues to teach art to children who have autism.

Trent Altman paints bright and soft hue abstract and expressionistic paintings using acrylic paints and an array of mixed media. According to Debra Hosseini, “Trent’s abstract art brings a sense of peace and harmony wherever it is displayed. His art is pure.” Collectors like his art because of the healing nature, good feeling, and fun impressions that his art projects. Trent has acquired international status as an artist where his painting the Abstract Garden II was chosen for the United Nations Autism Awareness stamp, 2012. The creative act of painting continues to enrich Trent’s life. He is an example of how someone who has significant autism can face challenges and amazingly offer his gift to the world.

Kevin Hosseini is a student who is a high school senior in California. He started painting when he was only nine years old and has produced hundreds of beautiful, colorful paintings. In 2012, he was honored to have one of his paintings "Bus or Cycle" chosen to be part of a VSA/Volkswagen of America Exhibit at the Smithsonian's S. Dillon Ripley Center in Washington D.C. His aspiration is to “paint the world.”

Lastly, the students at the Beacon Day School are receiving inspirational experiences early in their childhood education. They are offered music and art therapy to promote wellness, manage stress and express feelings, many thanks to their art teacher Juli Inagi.  The students drawings are expressionistic, colorful, and genuine. The image presented in this article was a drawing by one of the students at The Beacon Day School. 

I think Kris Kristopherson said it best, “Doing what you love to do and doing it with your spirit and your heart--that’s as good as it gets.” 

My life experiences have revealed to me no matter how difficult a person’s challenges are with autism or any other disability, there is always a hidden treasure that can be found. The ‘treasure’ is one’s unique inspiration to pursue an interest with positive energy and enjoyment. The artistic ‘treasures’ of the artists’ creations is a ‘must see’ this year at the Autism One 2013 Brilliance of Autism Exhibit.

Jacquelyn M. Marquette, Ph.D. Autism Transition Specialist & Veteran of Adult Transition (inquire about a private consultation)

Art Curator for Autism One (inquire about submiting art for Autism One)