“Autism is a severely handicapping disorder which begins at birth or within the first two years of life. For many years autism occurred in about 5 children per 10,000 live births. However, since the early 1990′s, the rate of autism has increased enormously throughout the world. (The newest figures seem to indicate 1 out of 166) The reasons for the increase are being debated. Most autistic children are perfectly normal in appearance, but spend their time engaged in puzzling and disturbing behaviors which are markedly different from those of normal children. They may stare into space for hours, throw uncontrollable tantrums, show no interest in people (including their parents) and pursue strange, repetitive activities with no apparent purpose. They have been described as living in a world of their own. Some autistic individuals are remarkably gifted in certain areas such as music or mathematics, as depicted in the film Rain Man. All need help.”
-Autism Research Institute
Forrest’s story is in some ways tragic and in many ways hopeful. He was a perfectly normal, happy child until the age of 2 and a half when he suddenly regressed into severe autism.
He became so out of control that he had to move to a therapeutic group home at age 9, where is got significantly better using a gluten free casein free diet. His speaking never fully developed and he showed little interest outside his inner world and he was still very difficult behaviorally.
Puberty was one crisis after another and, finally, after trying many different therapies and ways to reach him, we discovered RPM, a method of communicating with a simple letterboard. It took 4+ years to train Forrest and his teachers in this method, but finally we had success. He could type I LOVE YOU MOM.
More crises happened and finally he enterted another living facility that understood severe autism well. With the right medical help, Forrest finally came to terms with his autism. Through communication with the letterboard, we could finally know what HE was feeling and thinking and dreaming of. We discovered a funny, intelligent child who was trapped in a bubble, but now we had a way to communicate, and it made all the difference. For his birthday, we were finally able to ask him: WHAT DO YOU WANT AS A PRESENT?
His reply completely surprised us: I WANT A CAMERA
Really?! A Camera????
And so Forrest’s love affair with the camera and photography began. As he himself said:
I CAN DO THIS. I CAN TAKE PHOTOS.
And thus Autism Arts was born.
Our goal is to help Forrest reach his dream of becoming a professional photographer and artist. He has a vision of the ‘light within everything’ and many people have responded to this vision.
Since he began taking pictures, we have all had the tremendous luck of being able to present his work in a number of galleries and in several shows. We are honored and grateful for all the support Forrest and his work has gotten.
The eventual goal of Autism Arts is to become a full studio and career for Forrest so that he can live the kind of creative, enriching and meaningful life he is capable of.
If you want to keep-up with what is happening with Autism Arts and Forrest, please return often to this website and follow him on facebook at:
If you want to support Forrest and his vision, please consider purchasing a photograph or even giving him a show of his work in your store or gallery!
We are also always accepting donations for Forrest’s special needs trust fund.
The Sargent Family
206 362 7158