Art for Autistic Adolescent

NBC Show Parenthood Focuses on Asperger’s Syndrome
by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt
Parents embrace their son’s obsession by decorating room with bug art
This year I became involved with the television show Parenthood after they purchased an original artwork for their permanent set.  I wasn’t told when the episode would air that included my art nor which set the mosquito painting was destined for. Week after week I watched the show, wondering which character would like the art. Would the brothers who opened and renovated a music studio use my green and gold artwork in their olive green studios? Would the young woman who got a new apartment hang it on her walls? Perhaps the artist grandmother would “paint” my picture.
As the episodes wore on. I learned that one of the most fascinating characters on the show, Max, had Aspergers. This is very unusual for a “sitcom” to focus on a child with bad social skills. Usually they focus on the popular students doing regular mainstream activities. I really enjoyed this aspect of the show and when I learned his obsession was with insects I felt my art was destined for his room. Still, I had not found my piece and was left wondering if perhaps they did not use my art after all. Since they had purchased the art last July and I had been watching since September I had nearly given up but was still enjoying the plot and realistic characters that the show focuses on.
Mosquito Deity was part of a series of insect art
In an episode that aired February 14th, Max is picked last for a basketball game in gym. I remember that feeling of being picked last or close to last during recess in elementary school. I was surprised these popularity contests still go on in schools– and yet pleased that NBC writers did not sugarcoat an all to familiar situation. The gym coach does nothing to alleviate this “acceptable” form of bullying. Then when Max goes to the sidelines, we learn that another disabled kid’s needs are also neglected. Could the gym teacher have handled this differently? Why was the boy in the wheelchair not engaged during gym? Could he have been used as a referee or score keeper?

Mosquito deity, 16×20″ collected by NBC for Parenthood set design

Later, in Max’s room we learn that the gym teacher will let Max skip class if the parents provide a  note. This is pure laziness on the school’s part to not want to deal with a bullying issue or make accommodations for children with special needs.  Watch the episode and let me know what you think! And while the father talks to his son, you can look at my art which I spotted just over the actor’s shoulder.

You can purchase a print of this Mosquito Deity for your own child.

Kids with special needs or autism need understanding, not “fixing”.

15 thoughts on “Art for Autistic Adolescent”

  1. How wonderful Miriam to have your art on such a great show with inspiring stories. Thank you for sharing this with the world. I feel that children with special needs deserve just as much love care and understanding as anyone else. And that somehow, they are able to be a bit more appreciative that non special needs children. Crazy world.

    And how awesome of you to feature this Etsy treasury by Karol. I hope my scarf will someday bring a smile to a child's beautiful face.


  2. It is just that, Miriam, that has helped my daughter understand and be so caring to other people, coupled with the fact that I tried very hard to teach all three of my children to be open-minded about others and to be aware of how our differences makes us who we are and make this world a more interesting place. But my daughter struggled for years to be accepted by other children and to be understood by her teachers. Yet as she grew older and began to be more resilient, and we learned more about diet and other things to help control her behaviors and episodes, she also grew a very tender heart to folks who need compassion and love. Over the years, she has volunteered at a senior citizens center, at the humane society, and at her church's nursery and daycare program, and she is so amazing in her acceptance of other people. Sure, she still has episodes and some language and behavior barriers, and she still calls me several times a day, sometimes for just a simple question such as what to wear that is right for the weather that day, but she always takes things in stride and she tries so hard to maintain a happy outlook… something most of us have a very hard time doing from day to day. I truly believe that it is her autism that has taught her to be who and what she is… and for that reason alone, her autism is not a "disability."

  3. What a wonderful story! I'm so excited your artwork was chosen for the show!

    My kids have a friend whose brother is autistic and my daughter has two children with Down's syndrome in her class so they are around special people often. I had talked with them many times about the importance of including them in their conversations and play as they have so very much to offer.

    My daughter's cheer gym also has a special needs team and these kids are awesome! All the cheerleaders on the competitive teams love to volunteer time to work with the special needs team. They perform on stage at very large cheer events along with the other teams (but exhibition only)! They always get a standing ovation from the audience.

    I am very pleased that a piece of my artwork is in the treasury you chose to include in your special blog post! Thank you so much for sharing this story!


  4. It is interesting blog. This artists sounds and looks amazing. I hope to read more articles from you and in return I will post also my articles in the forum so that others can benefit from it. Keep up the good work!

  5. What a wonderful blog, Miriam. So happy for you to have your art used in this wonderful show.

    Karol, your clothing line for Downs Syndrome children is a great idea. I hope that you do very well with it. Thank you for including my baby blanket in this treasury for a beautiful cause.

    More understanding of all people is needed in this world and all of you here are doing just that!


  6. Very interesting blog post and comments — and congrats to you, Rebecca, for the recognition of your art, and to Karol for making a difference for many people. One of my brothers has cerebral palsey, and was also always picked last for teams etc. A kind football coach eventually stepped up and made him an equipment manager, and gave him PE credit that way; creativity in problem solving should count!

    I agree w/ the previous poster: Rock on , Sister Warriors!

  7. This is just awesome Miriam! How wonderful to have your art featured on a great show and thank you so much for adding my love coasters to your Etsy collection. I also love your blog; keep up the great work!!

    Ellie Jacobson, the head chick
    My Little Chickadee Creations

  8. Very interesting blog! I've not watched TV in a year, so I did not know about Parenthood. I, too have a blog, and I've featured my adult son with Down Syndrome in it:

    He's also my model for my larger Safety Third shirts and the avatar for my SafetyThird Facebook page :
    as well as modelling the adult Down Syndrome Awareness tshirts that I make:

    And, you know, it's amazing how many people viewing the FaceBook page don't even recognize his features!

    Thanks so much!

  9. Thank you so much Katie and Rebecca for sharing your personal stories– when I thought about what I wanted to write about for this blog post– I really wanted to focus on the issues brought forth in the show rather than on my own personal success. I too feel honored that my art is part of this show that treats issues realistically and with sensitivity.

    If you watch the episode, it is Max's "bad" social skills that leads him to be open minded about starting a friendship with a boy in a wheelchair– something that is so-called normal classmates failed to do.

  10. Beautifully written! What an honor for your gorgeous art to be associated with such a wonderful show! I live the world of special needs through my son and daughter. I will tell you the episodes Are so informative and express the feelings of families touched by special needs so very well. This beautiful treasury was developed by Karol for my beautiful daughter grace. She is A 2 year old little girl who has down syndrome. You can follow our family at and on Facebook at 5 boys + 1 girl = 6 where I share my hats I make to raise money for orphans with ds and my photography. I comend all of you for your beautiful products and for appreciating our amazing children. Katie

  11. As the mother of a child with autism, who is now an adult living independently in her own apartment, I am always happy to see autism and special needs become front and center in any social media as a way to promote awareness, understanding, and compassion for those among us who stand out in their own way. I remember how my daughter struggled in the public school setting, leading me to homeschool her for the last five years of school. Even then, we did not know she had autism, and no one in the medical or education professions suggested it or discussed it with us. It was through a friend who works with special needs adults and our own relentless research that we discovered this was what made our daughter who she is. And who she is a wonderfully caring, compassionatesand happy individual who has discovered her way in a world that can be so cruel. We are all able to cope much better with behaviors and emotions, now that we understand this piece of her. In the treasury above, that is my daughter as a very young child in the top left corner. I'm thrilled to be featured in Karol's wonderful collection and to be here on your blog. Congrats on your sale, and thanks so much for this important post.

  12. What a wonderful story! I must watch this show! The autistic students I have had in my classes have taught me so much about becoming a better teacher.

    I am honored to have my felted soaps in Karol's sweet collection that you have featured here.

    Thank you!
    Linda Bahr

  13. how wonderful to find my treasury on your blog! I am truly honored. I am hoping to become more involved with special needs children and have linked up with a Down Syndrome mom/photographer who is blessing me with the opportunity to use her little one as a model and post the pics in my shop which is going to feature clothing designed especially for those with special needs. Thank you so much!
    karol harris


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I’m Miriam Schulman, your curator of inspiration.

I inspire art-lovers to reconnect with their creativity and profit from their art. Whether you paint simply for the joy of it or you’re serious about selling your work, and you’re ready to stop putting yourself on the back burner...You're in the right place. I've done it and I can inspire YOU how to do it too.

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