Grant Manier is an 18 year old young man who is using his talent as an artist to fund raise for the school that made a difference for him. Westview School in Houston is a private school for autistic children where his mother works and he attended thanks to the donations of friends, family and scholarship money.
When Manier was four, his mother Julie Coy-Manier began a job at Westview School and immediately recognized the signs of autism in her son. Within the year, he was was diagnosed with high-functioning autism or Asperger’s syndrome. Talking to Woodlands Online she says,
“I was fortunate to work there and learn about autism and was blessed to have friends and total strangers donate money on Grant’s behalf for his education.”
Coy-Manier believes that her son may be the only artist whose main medium is the paper that he peels of of cardboard puzzle pieces. She says,
“Instead of toys, he wanted paper.”
“We took a repetitive behavior [tearing paper] that drove a lot of people crazy and made it into a business. A lot of autistic kids can have a lot of quirky behaviors and we need to redirect the behavior because it is a message. It is a gift.”
Two pieces of Mayner’s work have made their way to Washington, D.C. He won the High School Congressional Art Competition for the 8th District of Texas and the prize was having one of his pieces hanging in a Capitol building for a year. At a recent fundraiser, one piece of art was bought by four senators.
“Whenever I am doing my art work I feel relaxed like meditation. I have anxiety and challenges because I am autistic. Doing art helps me relax and it is fun.”
Below, CultureMap’s Joel Luks chats with Grant and his mother to learn how he transformed a repetitive behavior brought on by Asperger’s Syndrome, a type of high functioning Autism, into a business that gives back to his community.