Meet Brandon B.

Brandon loves drawing fictional maps by hand

Brandon B., 49

“I don’t think he sees the world as a challenge and I don’t see him being challenged by society,” says Reese, Brandon's brother.

 

Brandon was diagnosed nearly 50 years ago when there was little understanding of autism and few treatments or supports.

His sister, Joy, says Brandon was always smart, but she doesn’t ever remember seeing him cry. “Emotions—he just didn’t have them,” she says. He preferred being alone starting around age 3 and didn’t speak until he was 5.

True to his no-nonsense personality, Joy says, once he did speak, he spoke like an adult, “no baby talk.” His brother, Reese, adds that Brandon is mission-minded and detailed but not very forthcoming.

“You won’t get a lot of chitchat out of him,” says Reese.

His family stood behind Brandon, and today he holds down two jobs, one at the Red Cross and the other at the Cooper Hewitt Museum library. And then there are his maps.

Brandon’s hand-drawn, hand-colored maps – every inch filled with streets, landmarks, rivers, parks and bridges — are entirely fictitious. Every name, twist, turn and bend comes entirely from Brandon’s imagination, each map emerging from a blank sheet of paper.

Explaining his love of map-making Brandon says, “Well, it’s always interesting because it's like an art of its own. It’s the technique—what they used before they used computers.”

His talent transfers over to real-life navigation. Says, Reese, “I don’t use the GPS when I’ve got Brandon in the car.”

Joy says that no one knew what to expect of Brandon. She says her mother would be so proud to see where he is today and what he’s accomplished.