This is Stephen Wiltshire. He went for a short helicopter ride in New York City, and then drew the Manhatten skyline, perfectly scaled and in detail from memory! Wiltshire was diagnosed with autism when he was 3 years old. He was mute as a child, and when he turned 5 he was sent to a school in London where it was discovered that he had a talent for drawing. When he was 8 he began drawing cityscapes that had been devastated by earthquakes, which was all coming from his imagination. His teachers got him to say his first word, "paper," after taking away his art supplies, giving him no choice but to ask for them. One year later, at 9 years old he was able to fully speak. Now Stephen is a well known artist and goes around the world creating these beautiful works of art.
Stephen's story is an incredible example of the power of art. Many of the students I work with have autism and cannot speak one word. I know most of my students will not share the life experiences of Stephen, but it fills me with hope and excitement that we give our students the opportunity to communicate without using words.
What would a world without art look like? I wouldn't last long in that world, that's for sure.