We've all experienced the power of art as a vehicle to tell stories, evoke emotion, and perhaps even heal, through therapeutic applications. But there are times when art can extend beyond those effects to become truly transformative -- helping to form a bond of friendship and bring new light into a life.
Anthony is a young man in his mid-twenties with a diagnosis of autism. He lives in Massachusetts with his grandmother, who serves as his primary caregiver in the Caregiver Homes program. After Anthony "aged out" of the school system at 22, the family couldn't find an appropriate day program for him. Anthony was spending all of his time at home, resulting in significant social isolation.
Sarah Mauser, Care Manager for the family, had an idea. An art lover, Anthony enjoys playing piano and is especially passionate about comics – he spends much of his day drawing and creating a cast of imaginative characters. As it happens, Sarah had recently met artist Ben Blair at a local comics expo. In addition to his comics work, Ben is also enrolled in a master’s program in Art Therapy at Lesley University.
With this artist in mind, Sarah approached the family with the idea of finding a "Comics Mentor" for Anthony -- someone who would provide companionship and help him get better at one of his favorite activities. The family was thrilled by the idea.
Through a grant from the Caregiver Homes Family Fund, which Sarah applied for on behalf of the family, Ben became Anthony's mentor for 10 sessions. The sessions were a huge success, and the engagement was later extended through the end of this year thanks to a grant from the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism’s “Joey’s Fund” Family Grant Program.
After just a few months of mentoring, Sarah reports that the effect on Anthony has been "profound." Anthony's mood, behavior, and attitude have improved significantly. In Ben he has a friend to share his work with -- and art that he's proud to show off!
We want to extend our appreciation to Ben and to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism for helping to make a difference in this young man's life.