The world as we see it – autism artistic expressions

Winners and their parents - Courtesy - Ross Photography
Winners and their parents - Courtesy - Ross Photography


Many individuals on the autism spectrum experience challenges with communication and social interactions. Many are visual learners. While some may be limited in expressing themselves verbally, they may be able to express themselves in more creative ways.

Art is one format that is used to encourage both children and adults diagnosed. In an article, The Impact of Art on Autism, Suha Hussain noted, “Art fits naturally with autism in that it can help those with autism express themselves through images while also being a soothing activity. Face-to-face interactions, such as conversations can be stressful for those with autism, which makes it difficult to understand what the individual is feeling or thinking. A solution to this would be to rather focus on the person’s art and discuss it which will allow the other person to understand and form a better bond.”

In recognition of the importance of art and creative expressions and the positive roles they can play in the emotional and social development of people on the autism spectrum, C3 Centre in collaboration with Support Autism T&T hosted an art competition especially for children and adults on the autism spectrum. The competition’s theme was The World as I See It. It was meant to create an opportunity for autistic people to express their creativity and to encourage them to communicate about the things that were important in their world.

Winners and their parentsTsian-Li Hollingsworth collects her prize from Tyrone Hilton Clarke, facilities manager at C3 Centre. - Courtesy - Ross Photography

In the 12-and-under category, 8-year-old Jivan Chaitoo placed first. Jivan noted, “The artwork is an expression of how I view the world around me. It’s very easy to draw what I think something looks like, rather than what we’re actually seeing. Artwork fosters a feeling of joy and boosts a good mood and positive emotions. When I draw it express my feelings of fear, joy, dreams, self-esteem and my vital energy. It also shows my relationship to the world and the way in which I do things. Whatever comes to my mind I draw, I love drawing and it is an outlet to my communication and represents a view of my personality. I use a dose of imagination, together with real-life experiences when I create my art piece. Drawing makes me feel relaxed creative and inspired.”

Second-placed Tsian-Li Hollingsworth, a pupil of Arouca Government Primary School, drew a piece which speaks to her life at school. Re-adjusting to school life was particularly challenging. Her day starts of in anxiety but with the support of her teacher aide and her friends, along with the routine of the schoolday (including prayer and meal times) she's able to function.

Winners pose with their art pieces.
- Courtesy - Ross Photography

Tsian-Li’s mom, Lyra Thompson-Hollingsworth notes, “Tsian-Li lives to do art. She is always drawing, colouring and crafting. She has raw skill and is pretty awesome at what she does. She is most regulated when focusing on completing a piece, and she is most confident when referring to herself as an artist. She already has a fan base, and is very happy and inspired when her drawings get rave reviews. Winning a prize in this recent competition was truly symbolic for her, and was celebrated as a family.

In this category, 9-year-old Zoee won a special prize for Most Scenic Artwork. Zoee said, “I drew the sunset because the sunset looks so beautiful. Watching the sunset makes me feel so happy.” Art is Zoee’s passion and it comes so natural to her. She loves drawing and painting scenic places, her dolls and pays attention to all the fine details.

According to her mom, Zoee’s speciality is in water colours. “I see how art makes her so happy and in her element. Zoee likes a good Sip N Paint session. I guess once it involves art, she is all for it. She has been doing art classes since she was 5 years old. She told me that art relaxes her. I could see her being some famous fashion designer.” Zoee wants to be three things when she grows up: A dentist because she loves to see people with a beautiful smile; a teacher because she loves to teach children; and an artist on the weekends because art relaxes her.”

Hezekiah Vialva Smith, a nine-year-old student of Virtue Inclusive Private school, placed third in this category. Hezekiah drew this picture to show how he sees the world – when he goes to the movies, he wears his earmuffs because it is too loud for him. He loves art and his bedroom walls are covered in drawings of the things that mean a lot to him. He also makes picture books for family members.

Thirteen-year-old Sydney Mahabir was the winner in the 13-18 years category. Mahabir's artwork is a beach scenery she loves going to the beach with her family. She drew friends on the beach, bathing in the sea and having fun at a beach house. Mahabir loves drawing and art and she spends hours in the day drawing in her sketchpads and journals. She especially loves drawing characters – many from her imagination. Her mom Venessa Mahabir said drawing helps to calm Sydney and she uses drawing to express herself and how she's feeling. She is unable to read so she draws her story in her diary sometimes. Art and drawing are a huge part of Sydney's development and expression.

Other winners were Astra Private School – Most Collaborative Piece; and Khaalid Mohammed – Most Expressive Art Piece. Congratulations to all the winners of the first art competition organised exclusively for individuals on the autism spectrum in Trinidad and Tobago and thank you to C3 Centre for taking the initiative to create opportunities for people with autism in TT.

Radica Mahase is the founder/director of Support Autism T&T


"The world as we see it – autism artistic expressions"

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