Ten years ago – two years before I started working at The Son-Rise Program, I read a book called Exiting Nirvana – about a young woman named Jessica Park – who is diagnosed with autism. The book tells some of the story of her life, and describes the passion that Jessica gives to her art. And wow – the art she creates is absolutely amazing. If you’d like to see a sample of her art – check out her website:


For me, Jessica Park’s art is inspiring because of the beauty she sees in the world. She pulls inspiration from the structures she sees in everyday life – the George Washington Bridge, the Flat Iron Building, etc. And each structure she draws, while so plain and colorless in real life – take on an almost ethereal quality when she adds the colors and the textures that she sees in each structure. They’re breathtaking in their beauty. As I looked at Jessica Park’s paintings, I just kept thinking to myself – what if we actually took time with every single special child – to find out how they see the world?

To me, being able to join a child’s repetitious or exclusive activity is window into an entirely new world – a world I never would have seen without the guidance of all of the special children I meet every day. Until I saw Jessica’s art, all I saw was a gray, metal bridge. Now – I can’t help but see every bridge in a rainbow of color. Each child with autism that I meet shows me such beauty in the world – beauty in all of the places that I never thought to look.