“I have a desire to share my autistic world with you. It is a beautiful yet bothersome world. I type these words and paint these paintings for you. To you, I give myself and my world in hopes of creating greater understanding and peace between our worlds. My own belief is that if we understand more about each other’s worlds, peace will follow.” – Roy Bedward
Years ago, I met Roy Bedward and his wonderful family when I was supervising student teachers. Roy was a high school student and he had so many challenges in his life. His communication was limited, he had significant movement problems and he experienced a lot of sensory difficulties. On top of all of that, his favorite teacher was about to move away.
Luckily, it was at this time in his life that he met my friend and colleague, Sally Young. Sally is an educator, support person and communication guru. She is also, however, an artist and art teacher. Roy immediately let Sally know that he was interested in art and over the last decade, the two have collaborated, learned together and explored different types of expression and styles of art. Roy has also emerged as a writer in this time period and he has just published a new book about his life experiences.
I just love Roy’s story. I have watched the evolution of his message, his thinking and his painting with wonder and admiration. Roy has used creativity as a tool for connection and communication and has helped so many people understand autism and the power of art. I have used his materials to teach not only about communication but to illustrate what life can look like after the school years end. We not only need more support folks who listen generously and help people live rich, inclusive lives, but we also need more voices helping us understand neurodiversity.
If you want to experience Roy’s work for yourself and you happen to live in Madison, Wisconsin you are in luck because Roy is putting on a show this Monday, April 20th at the Sequoya Library (4340 Tokay Blvd) at 6:00 PM. He will share some of his written work and display his art as well. Hope some of you can make it.