Children with autism can have exceptional talents

April 12, 2009 7:21:45 AM PDT
Children with autism have exceptional talents. A northwest suburban 10-year-old's artistic talent was discovered when he was 7. Always fascinated with cityscapes and buildings, Johnny Reisel has the ability to explain himself by drawing rather than speaking.

"His artwork has evolved a lot," said mom Eileen.

His family didn't know but Johnny has amazing art perception.

As the oldest triplet and the only one with autism, Johnny can be a lot of fun, according to his sister Maggie.

"Sometimes we play on the couch," Maggie said, "like he'll tell us to jump, Maggie, Vincent, jump, so we'll go on the couch and do cannonballs and stuff like that."

Johnny was diagnosed with autism at a young age when his mom Eileen knew something was different with him.

"He met all the milestones the same or above Maggie and Vincent, I don't know if it's just your mom instinct, so I took him to be evaluated and at the time there's a lot of feedback about he's just a boy, he's going to be delayed," Eileen said.

Although Johnny has come a long way, he still faces a lot of challenges due to his disability.

"He has a hard time with understanding social expectations," said Eileen. "He's become much more of a communicator, but it's difficult for him...He certainly has anxiety and frustrations, but having said that, he reads -- and he just took a test -- and he reads a fourth grade passage at 100 percent accuracy."

But his art talent is exceptional as his father Bob points out.

"He can draw New York or Chicago," said Bob. "Today he was doing Venezuela and Colombia, and you know, it like transports him to places, and his experiences, these images, and he draws them. It's like he's feeling those things and can go to those places that, you know, physically would be very difficult for him to do."

His brother is impressed.

"I think that it's really good, it has a lot of details. I like that he draws it in his own way," said brother Vincent.

After being encouraged by friends, the Reisels started sharing Johnny's artwork.

"We started at first with an ornament that we give," said Eileen. "We just make a limited amount every year and those are not for sale. People love to have them, so then we did a few in prints, we did an art show."

They have note cards, prints and journals with Johnny's art work for sale. But there is no big plans to expand.

"We just feel that Johnny's been give this gift and if somehow through his gift it makes people more aware of how amazing these kids are, then we're willing to share it," said Eileen.

If you are interested in purchasing some of Johnny's art work e-mail johnnyscards@yahoo.com or call Amy Suoboda, (847) 204-2300.


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