Children and even adults diagnosed with autism may have a hard time communicating with other people. Some of them are completely unable to relate to other people while others are able to find other means to express themselves.
Stephen Wiltshire was diagnosed with autism when he was just three years old.
Since then, he couldn’t communicate verbally. It was only at the age of 5 that he was able to say his first words. They were “pen” and “paper” and he couldn’t even say those words properly.
However, he was able to sketch and he was quite good at it.
He entered various art competitions and from there, his skills as an artist reached the radar of some of the world’s important personalities. One of them was the British prime minister who got him to draw the famous Salisbury Cathedral. He was only 8 years old at that time.
By the time he was 13, he’s already published his very first book of drawings.
Now, Stephen isn’t just known as the man who has autism.
He’s considered as one of the best-known artists in Britain. In fact, if you want to commission him to draw something, you’ll have to wait for four to eight months.
Stephen is considered a savant.
He has this unique ability to replicate an entire cityscape- no matter how complicated it is- in a matter of days after briefly observing it. He frequently hops in a helicopter to memorize every single detail.
For example, back in October 2009, he was invited to take a 20-minute helicopter ride just about New York city. Despite the short time, he was up there, he was able to memorize every single detail of the city and draw it on a 19-foot canvas after.
That time, Stephen didn’t have any codes or symbols to recall all the details. He didn’t even make a rough sketch up when he was in the helicopter. He only used his photographic memory to recreate everything on the canvas.
And so far, he has drawn Hong Kong, Sydney, Paris, Venice, and London. He was also commissioned to draw the Tokyo skyline, Rome, Dubai, Madrid, and Jerusalem.
Stephen doesn’t fully understand that he’s autistic. To him, he’s just an artist in his own right. Drawing makes him feel good because he sees that it makes the people around him smile.
According to his sister Annette Wiltshire:
“That he has a gift makes no sense at all to Stephen. He knows that he draws very well, but he picks that up from other people — he sees the warmth on their faces, they tell him how much they like his work, and that makes him very happy.
Stephen serves as a good reminder for people to not focus on anyone’s diagnosis. We should not limit anyone by what their medical condition dictates and what we believe is good or bad for them. With or without autism, we should work on supporting each other’s passion.
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