An 8th grade student at Gardner Academy in Lansing has been discovered through his artwork. But what makes this artwork exceptionally special is that this student has been diagnosed with autism. Alex Torres, 14, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was 2½ years old. His disordered limits his ability to verbally communicate with others.
After being diagnosed Alex’s mom started to buy him Play-Doh because it offers a sensory experience, which is often recommended for kids on the autism spectrum. After noticing that the Play-Doh animals would dry out and become brittle, she then switched to buying modeling compound. Alex has a dozens of colorful, tiny figures covering the surface of a table in Alex’s basement work area. Among these tiny figures is a cat eating nachos, a plate of spaghetti, a pair of dogs relaxing at a picnic complete with a high-stacked hamburger, hot dog, a Coke and tiny Oreo cookies.
Alex is among a worldwide group of young artist whose work was on display during November in Washington D.C. as part of the VSA International Art Program for Children with Disabilities. Alex was honored for his family portrait, including pets at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. He has been attending classes off and on at REACH Studio Art Center on South Washington Avenue. His teacher at REACH, Mila Theroux, states “He’s got something that is coming from inside of him that’s amazing.”
Alex’s artwork includes drawings in pencil, marker and crayon, paintings and hundreds of tiny sculptures. Alex also has taken classes in using a potter’s wheel and making sculptures from clay that can be fired. His parents, Angelina Torres and Carlos Ortiz, dream that his art will eventually help him become self-supporting.
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