Austin Orelli and Tiffany Fuller, Williamsport, Pennsylvania – The Art of Autism is a family run business which started 5 years ago when Austin, now 20 and who has autism, started to bring home drawings and paintings of animals that he had created.
Autism Daily Newscast wanted to find out more about the family and the artist. We contacted Tiffany Fuller, Austin’s sister and Vice President of Art of Autism; she answered our questions as well as directing the same questions to Austin.
What is made very clear on the website is that although Austin struggles with communication and expressing himself verbally due to his autism ‘these things do not define him.’
We firstly asked Austin why in particular he decided to paint animals. Austin replied:
“Because I like it. They are my favourite”
Tiffany then added that Austin has always loved animals.
“He loves the zoo. Now he is lucky enough to be volunteering once a week at a small zoo in our area. For as long as I can remember he would research animals and be able to spell their names and know where in the world they are from. He might not be able to tell you in a proper sentence but he knows his animals.”
We then asked Austin to tell us a little about the painting process and where and when he likes to paint?
“I use acrylics, collared pencil, water pencil, marker, and water colours. I go to the church”
Tiffany further explained that Austin goes to a church in their local area for art lessons once a week and that this is the only place he will work on his paintings and that depending upon the detail a painting can take up to 6 weeks to complete.
Tiffany then continued:
“Any other time whether it’s at home, on vacation, or going out to dinner he has a very thick sketch book where he sketches any animal you could possibly think of. He has a ton of field guides and research books that he looks at and learns about the animals he is sketching.”
Austin loves the water and the family’s sailboat is based in Maryland.
“I go to the boat for sailing and camp”
Tiffany told us that he has been going to the family’s boat since he was a baby.
“He loves the water. Also, there is a camp in the area for children/adults with special needs. He has been going there for a long time for 2 weeks in the summer. My mom and Austin live in the boat at this time.”
Austin further added:
“When I was little I watch cartoons and draw them. I go to the swimming pool and zoo”
Tiffany was very honest in sharing her feelings about growing up as an elder sibling and candidly told us:
“I was in eighth grade when he was first diagnosed. I remember being sad that he wouldn’t be able to do all of the things that you look forward to when you are younger, major milestones, driving for example. But after that I never really thought about it. He’s my brother and I love him. That’s it.”
Tiffany is now Austin’s job coach