Sherika Farrell has been an artist for most of her life, but after her son was diagnosed with autism, her art took on new meaning. Doctors told Farrell that her son, Jaiden, might not ever speak, so she communicated with him the best way she knew how and created what she likes to call, Autism Art.
“In art, there is no wrong way to express yourself or communicate. You go by how you feel, even when you can’t find the words or don’t have the words,” Ferrell told Because of Them We Can.
According to the National Autism Association, autism affects 1 in 59 children and about 40% of children with autism do not speak.
Jaiden was diagnosed at 2-years-old and started to talk a little after 4-years-old. Four years since he started speaking, Ferrel told Because of Them We Can that creating art with him has developed his patience, discipline, and focus, which is a big deal for any child, especially one with Autism.
“I love that he is a creative soul just like me and it has been and will always be a way that we bond. The fact that he can sit with me long enough to get painted, give me his input through the process, and bring the characters to life in his own way means so much to me. He talks (all the time) now and I didn’t doubt that he would, in his own time. But even if he never did, we had our own way to communicate,” Ferrell said.
With the touch of his mother’s paint brush, Jaiden has transformed into some of his favorite characters.
“He loves transforming with me and it makes me so happy. He actually came up with a few of the ideas himself. He’s very creative and he brings the characters to life better than I can paint them if I’m being honest. Earlier in his diagnosis, it was almost impossible to get him to sit longer than 5 or 10 minutes, now he can sit for 30+ minutes if necessary,” she says.
Sherika, thank you for using your art to encourage your baby and to raise awareness about autism and the need for autism acceptance. We can’t wait to see what you and Jaiden create next. Because of you!