Colfax family uses art to raise awareness about autism - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Colfax family uses art to raise awareness about autism

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Colfax (WQOW) - The mystery of autism may never be solved, but progress is being made every day. And it's obvious when you see the artwork a young man from Colfax is producing. 

About 1 in 88 of children falls somewhere on the autism spectrum, that's about twice the rate we saw a decade ago. One local family is using art to raise awareness about autism in their community.

Put paint and a blank canvass in front of Jake Schindler, and the possibilities are endless. Jake's mom Christina Schindler, says, "I've noticed that at times he'll be very calm."

At ease, or a smile, Christina Schindler has witnessed those expressions on her son's face, when his hands hit the canvass, since he started painting in April.

Christina says, "It all started, my father came over and he was telling me about a TV show he was watching and it was about two young men and it was about how one did detailed art and the other did abstract."

Doctor Gregg Kishaba, a Pediatrician for Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire and Jake's doctor, says, "The way he understands his environment and interacts through his senses is different for your or for I, so there's something about the art that is enjoyable for him."

While 18-year-old Jake can't speak, he uses sounds and sign to interact with those around him.

Jake's older brother Matt is also on the spectrum.  Christina says, "Once Matthew was diagnosed at around the age of two, we were told being that Matt and Jake are so close in age, to keep an eye on Jake as well."

Christina says there wasn't much awareness about autism when her sons were diagnosed about 13 years ago.

"We had to educate ourselves, autism, what is it? How do we fix it? Is there medication? And then you get the answer of well, there's no know cause and there's no known cure," explains Christina.  

She hopes by getting Jake's art out into the Colfax community, people will come to know more than just his disability. Christina says, "We want people to recognize that he has abilities too."

Jake's family even donated some of his works of art to hang on the walls at Mayo Clinic Health System in Menomonie, the same hospital he was born. "That's where it all started and that's where we thought we should donate to," says Christina.  

And with any abstract art, Jake's is open to interpretation. They've even turned the guessing game into a book.

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