TAVARES, Fla. — They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and for people with autism, that expression takes on a very literal meaning.

What You Need To Know

  • People with autism have a hard time expressing themselves

  • But art creates a way for them to communicate

A new art exhibit in the Lake County Museum of Art debuted this past weekend, and it aims to highlight the creative abilities of people with disabilities.

“Autism will always be with these families. And to show a positive outcome like in this show, is really almost more a heart matter than it would’ve been without adversity,” autism disorder specialist Gesa Barto said. “Individuals with autism are visual learners, often think in pictures.”

They can have trouble expressing themselves, but with art, words are not necessary, she said.

Opening weekend for the exhibit brought in dozens of people who marveled at the vast variety of colors, themes, and types of art.

Proud families and artists celebrated seeing their work in the limelight, and how it reflects on the way they see life.

“I would like people to know that autism is really brilliant, and it’s a good thing," said Annada Vergo, one of the artists whose work was featured. "And it’s a brilliant way to see the world,” 

For Mike Mallott and his family, it was a brilliant way to spend the weekend.

“It’s kind of interesting to see how expressive these artists were in different mediums, and I think in different emotions," Mallot said. "So I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I came here, and I was kind of blown away by the variety that I saw."

It is an open door for the artists, after the pandemic closed them off to opportunities for enrichment.

Specialists say, for someone with autism, it is extremely challenging to adjust to any change, let alone the drastic changes that came along with COVID-19.

That is why this collection is not just about art. It is proof that even in tough times, these artists will shine.

The exhibit will be on display every Thursday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., until September 26.​

The UCF Center for Autism and Related Disabilities helped make it all possible. The organization supports more than 15,000 people in Central Florida.