Yesterday was World Autism Day – April is Autism Awareness Month!
‘Benidorm, Spain’ drawn in 1979 by Richard Wawro. MIke Wawro, CC BY
“As a toddler growing up in the 1950s, Richard Wawro threw violent tantrums. Often, he would tap the same piano key for long stretches of time.
“When he was three, his parents took him for testing at a nearby hospital. They were told that he was moderately to severely retarded. His family, however, never believed that his IQ was as low as the experts claimed.
“A special education teacher began working with Richard when he was six. She introduced him to drawing with crayons, which he took to quickly.
“He began filling sketchbooks (and the wallpaper of his Scotland home) with startlingly accurate depictions of cartoon characters like Yogi Bear. When Richard was 12, his artwork astounded a visiting artist who said that his drawings were created “with the precision of a mechanic and the vision of a poet.”
“Richard could never read or write well. His speech remained limited. But his involvement with the art world spurred his social development. He participated in dozens of exhibitions and became a well-known artist. His artwork was celebrated by the media and in a documentary, “With Eyes Wide Open.” Both Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II owned Wawro’s originals.”