For many years, young people struggling with autism were labelled as being slow and unsociable, often disruptive. Although research continues, the condition is now much better understood. Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects 1 in 100 people in the UK. It affects the way a person communicates and how they experience the world around them. There is a broad spectrum of autistic traits and those with High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger Syndrome (AS) are often extremely intelligent. Because HFS and AS children have a high IQ, they are not given any extra support through the education system and this is often extremely challenging for those children and their families, as well as placing additional pressure on their schools. In Essex, these individuals and their families are supported by SAFE (Supporting Asperger Families in Essex)
Autism and creative thinking
But people with autism often have attributes and skills that can set them apart in a more positive manner. Recent research suggests that those with autism excel in creative thinking. Louis Morel sets a fine example of how someone with autism has been able to express themselves through art. Louis is a young adult with Asperger’s Syndrome and youth patron for Ambitious about Autism, a national charity that has an ambition to “make the ordinary possible for more children and young people with autism.”
Louis’ artwork follows his animated short that has been viewed over 22,000 times on YouTube which describes what sensory overload feels like. Using Adobe Flash animation software CS6 and drawing the pictures with his computer mouse, Louis has created a gallery of animated art that includes individual characters and scenes including ‘Fire and Forest’ and ‘Black and White’.
Louis, aged 17, said, “Due to suffering from severe sensory processing problems, I can’t leave the house without being in immense pain. It hurts like hell to go to any new places or see any new people so instead I go to new places and meet new people in my head and that’s where my drawings come from. I might never be able to visit places like the Grand Canyon or the Niagra Falls but at least I can go to a version of it in my head even though it’s bright pink and covered in cats!
“I’ve drawn ever since I was little, but I only really started getting into it about a year ago. I draw because I like making pretty pictures and I find it therapeutic. Sometimes I base a drawing on two words that sound pretty together, like knives and nightmares, gears and grime, love and life and when I can’t think of an appropriate name I just hammer the keyboard and hope!”
Louis started as a volunteer with Ambitious about Autism’s myVoice project – a social platform for young adults with autism to connect and discuss issues that they all face. He is now a youth patron for the charity, which involves representing the views and needs of children and young people with autism and running the myVoice project.
Louis explained how he would like to use his art to fundraise for Ambitious about Autism. “I have sold some of my paintings to people that I know but I would like to sell more as a fundraiser for Ambitious about Autism; I just really want to give something back, and hopefully help other people like me.”
Prints of Louis’ work can be purchased on his Etsy store. Fifty percent of the profits from sales will go to Ambitious about Autism.
Louis will be exhibiting his work at the Click Clock Gallery in Croydon in June 2016. You can view the full gallery of his artwork online here: Louis Morel – Deviant Art