Penang,Malaysia – 11-year-old Delwin Cheah Wien Loong received a letter from United States President Barack Obama. The July 14 letter thanked Delwin for sending a book of his drawings titled, “I Can Draw” while also praising him for his talents. To quote the famed letter:
“The world needs young people like you who are trying hard in school, serving your community, and dreaming big dreams.”
Delwin’s parents, Lawrence Cheah and Erina Law, have no idea who sent Obama their son’s published book of drawings and were surprised to learn he had received a copy.
This is not the first time Delwin’s name has been in the news. He first made headlines when he was entered in the Malaysia Book of Records as the “Youngest Artist To Hold Solo Visual Art Exhibition (Autism Spectrum Disorder)” and was later named the United States’ Record Setter’s “World Youngest Savant Artist (ASD) to hold a Solo Exhibition.”
But one interview with the savant’s parents shows how the boy who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age five and sports an IQ if 114 earned these esteemed titles.
Delwin showed an interest in drawing since the age of three, prompting his father to send him to art classes. Shockingly, the teacher was not fond of his work, claiming that he could never be a talented artist. He didn’t take instructions well and drew what he wanted, not what was assigned. Yet the most interesting aspect about his art throughout the years is that he never needs to use pencil. He is gifted enough to draw everything in pen without any mistakes, something even the most palatable artists can’t do.
His parents encouraged him to continue drawing, hoping that art as well as other forms of early education would give him the edge he needed in school. It did. As his father told the Malaysia Insider:
“But we never gave up and we kept encouraging him to develop his skills and his art. Delwin is where he is now because we persevered together with him as a team”
His Mother stresses that his Asperger’s is not a learning disability, but a learning difference. Delwin attends Lighthouse Academy Penang, a private school that offers an American syllabus in Tanjung Bungah.
“Delwin attends school like other children his age. He just learns differently,”
The original article by LOOI SUE-CHERN on the Malaysia Insider website can be read here