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The special moment when I explained my painting to Joe Biden

This guest post is by Sarah Redding. Sarah was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2-1/2. She is a graduate of the Autism Spectrum Program of Howell HS. Today Sarah is a participant in the Howell PAL- Helping Hands Art Program; and the OASIS TLC Day Program. She is currently taking private art lesson with Broeck Steadman.

In May, Sarah presented her original painting of the White House to Vice President Joe Biden at an event for the Beau Biden Foundation. We are beyond grateful to Sergeant Christopher Hill of the Howell PAL, Colleen Hordichuk of Helping Hands Art, and Patty Dailey Lewis Executive Director of the Beau Biden Foundation for giving Sarah this incredible opportunity. Sergeant Hill has partnered with the foundation whose mission is to protect ALL children. Sarah’s painting will be kept at the foundations office in Wilmington Delaware. 

This is how Sarah describes that moment:

I was nervous when I first got the news that I would be giving my painting to Vice President Biden and while I was shopping for the perfect dress I started to get worried. But once I was prepared and it came time to meet him, I was excited. I wasn’t nervous at all. It was a great moment in my life.  I couldn’t believe it was really happening. The Vice President introduced himself to me and gave me a big hug. Joe Biden is such a nice guy. He made me feel really comfortable. I treated him like any other person. Famous or not we are all just people.

My favorite part of the night was when I got to explain my painting to the Vice President. This meant a lot to me. I told him how it was a symbol of our flag. The red and white roses are the stripes. The night sky is the stars in blue. I told him that I added a moon as Beau’s “moonshot” and for Vice President Biden’s promise to help people with cancer.

It was an incredible experience and I will never forget how kind Vice President Biden was to me.  His kindness is probably what impressed me the most. It was a great night, but I’m still me. I haven’t changed.

I like art because it’s a way to be creative; it’s a dream world to escape in; it’s a balance between reality and imagination. I’ve always enjoyed doing art projects. I remember it was my favorite thing to do when I was in pre-school at Douglass (Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers). I also liked making designs with shapes when I was at Rock Brook School. I like different types of art.  My favorite style of drawing is Anime and Manga. I like making up characters and stories. I also like to create graphic designs. Like the design I made for Mrs. Hortichuk’s Etsy shop. I really like the painting I am working on with my teacher, Broeck right now. 

Art keeps me focused, it can be relaxing, exciting or thought provoking. I chose art as my career because it’s not a job. It’s something I have fun with and can do my whole life. My dream is to create art and designs for prints, tee shirts, coffee mugs and other products that I can sell. Art is just me, and it makes me feel free.

My advice to EVERYONE is to find the balance between following the “norm” and breaking the “norm” to find who you are.

The Autism Speaks blog features opinions from people throughout the autism community. Each blog represents the point of view of the author and does not necessarily reflect Autism Speaks' beliefs or point of view.