I feel so honored to have been asked to photograph 22 year-old Aldo for Stories of Autism which is a national project dedicated to increasing autism awareness through portrait photography. The experience was inspiring on so many levels.
At 22, Aldo is creative, smart and funny. He is an amazing artist, has a great job, takes classes he enjoys and has a love of life. I met Aldo and mom Sylvia at Arts Unbound, an incredible creative art space serving people with disabilities, and there I was able to see some of the amazing art that Aldo has created. The intense mixed-media pieces you see in these photographs were created when Aldo was encouraged to use art to express how he felt about a time he was picked on by a student several years his junior.
Here Aldo is working on his sketchbook, surrounded by samples of his artwork, including clay sculptures, paintings and volumes of drawings he has created of dinosaurs and creatures of every kind.
As incredible as it was to get to know Aldo and be inspired by his attitude and ability to express his emotions through art, it was likewise such an amazing experience getting to know to his mother Sylvia. Just hearing about her story and the challenges she faces to help Aldo become a valuable part of society is so inspiring. As a mother with young children, I know I’ve heard quite a bit about autism resources for younger ages … but to be honest I hadn’t put much thought into how these resources translate for these children as they become adults. As I learned from Sylvia, it is such a challenging world – but she handles it with such grace, dignity and undying love for Aldo. And here Aldo is, highly-functioning, full of creativity and passion, and employed at a job he enjoys. Not many 22 year-olds could say that.
Many thanks to Aldo and Sylvia for sharing your story and being an inspiration to all of us!
You can read more about Aldo’s story here
To learn more about Arts Unbound
and how they give creative power to those with disabilities, visit: