COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Timothy Blackwell, 25, started doodling at age two, because it had a calming effect. His artistic endeavors will now help to support him.
“I just think and then I write it down on a surface like this,” Blackwell told NBC4’s Colleen Marshall.
Blackwell, who is autistic, has dealt with bouts of social anxiety, sound sensitivity, and emotional regulation. But art — whether it’s inspired by television shows or movies — has always been with him, he and his mother Rebecca said.
“It’s been a long journey. He was diagnosed when he was two,” she said. “There’s been many, many people, many organizations who have been involved with him to help get him to this point.”
One of them is I Am Boundless. The nonprofit’s mission is to realize the potential of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, particularly those with autism.
“We never truly knew what he had until other people said, ‘Hey, this is a treasure,'” said Robert Blackwell, his father.
First, it was a counselor in a social skills and networking program called Max who recognized Blackwell’s talent. Then the CEO of a graphic screen print company called “Awesome” put out a contest calling for artists with autism, and a professional artist was born.
“I believe we put these four pieces, were the first ones that we put in,” said Angela Belin, a MAX Counselor. “She calls me Monday morning at 8 a.m. like, ‘You found Timothy Blackwell, I’ve been looking for this young man for years. How many more pieces can I get?'”
So far, 15 pieces are his art are part of a wearable collection — where people can purchase Blackwell’s art on a variety of clothing items. He gets a cut of the profits, and potentially the opportunity to see strangers wearing his art.
Boundless President Dr. Patrick Maynard said it’s the reason he gets out of bed in the morning.
“To be able to come out of a period of time when he couldn’t communicate well, and now obviously can communicate through speech, art, everything else — that really is why I do what I do,” Maynard said.
For the Blackwell family, it’s a new path forward. Blackwell said he is excited.
“Just in January, we were at an art gallery looking at an exhibit. And I told Timothy, ‘You know,
this could be you,'” Robert said. “And now it’s him, so don’t be afraid to dream. Even though your child has challenges of autism, they still have their dreams, and as a parent its up to us to find them and try to embrace them.”
Screen prints with his art are available here.