Cheryl Colton is the mother of 21-year-old Ari, who has autism. She lived in a constant state of stress for a few years, unsure of what to do when Ari would get home from school. Without anything to focus on, Ari would just ‘stim’, which is a term for a repetitive body movement that many people on the autism spectrum experience.
Together, they took up art as a hobby. Then, in what seemed like, all of a sudden, Ari had focus. Though art, they had discovered a way to strengthen their relationship. Colton said, “I noticed that he was focused when he was beading with me.”
Colton took the idea and ran with it, and is now beginning a nonprofit organization called Ari-Art. The goal is to give artists with autism a place where they can work on projects and offering workshops to help better their skills. Colton founded Ari-Art with Ross White and Pat Williams.
Williams added, “The art project offers them real-life skills and lasting relationships.”
Ari-Art houses various art projects such as jewelry making, bowl making, and photography. Williams said: “This [art project] gives them a means to free their thoughts and their expression and creativity.”
Currently Ari-Art sells its merchandise at different local bazaars, but they are hoping to expand their facilities and open a full store in the near future. Colton believes this would be optimal for helping all of the artists with autism who are involved. She describes them all as social guys who love to chat, and having a store would be a great opportunity for them to converse about their art with new people.
To view some samples of the work that is being done at Ari-Art, click here