Timothy Blackwell’s dynamic drawings are printed on tee shirts, sweater tops and tote bags.
Often, being autistic and artistic go hand-in-hand. Timothy Blackwell, 25, has natural drawing talent; nobody taught him how to create artwork. Perhaps some of his talent comes from his autism.
“Tim seemed to be developing normally until 15 months old,” says Rebecca Blackwell, his mother.
“By the time he was 18 months old he had retreated into his own world, and he was still nonverbal.
“We had him evaluated at Columbus Speech and Hearing where they told us our 18-month-old was functioning at a six-month level.
“That qualified him for services through Franklin County DD. We attended classes at Columbus Speech and Hearing with other parents who talked about behaviors their autistic children had — and they sounded like Tim.
“We found out about a psychologist named Bonnie Ritchie who specialized in children with autism, and she evaluated and diagnosed Tim with autism at two years old.”
That’s also the age at which he began doodling: A talent that is now being printed on tee shirts, hooded sweaters and tote bags.
For Tim, doodling had a placating effect, and little did his parents know at that time that it was also a sign of marketable talent to come.
Tim’s burgeoning profession as an artist has been facilitated by a nonprofit organization, I Am Boundless, which helps disabled individuals lead as much of a boundless life as possible by inspiring their potential.
“I am learning to become more self-sufficient and independent by joining a Boundless program called Without Walls and learning how to behave in public,” says Tim, who spends a lot of time drawing every day.
A printing services company is how Tim’s artwork was discovered, after he entered the company’s art contest for autistic adults.
It now carries 15 pieces of Timothy’s illustrative creations.
Currently not employed in a conventional setting, Tim says, “I wish to somehow make a full-time living with my work.
“My autism gives me the creative desire and inspiration to draw my works.
“When I draw, it lets my mind flow freely as I calm myself down and imagine what my drawing looks like.”
Tim lives with his parents and is hoping one day to become more self-reliant in the community.
Rebecca explains, “Tim is very intelligent, but many times lacks self-awareness about his surroundings.
“It is sometimes hard for him to control his behaviors, which can be intimidating for those who don’t understand him.”
Not surprisingly, Tim always has some paper and a pen with him.
“When he is focused on drawing, he can block out the noises that really bother him,” says Rebecca.
Tim explains, “The challenges autism gives me include sensitivity to loud sounds and certain noises, so I wear my headphones to block them out.”
He’ll sometimes wear noise-dampening headphones while drawing.
“Getting to know Timothy allows a person to understand how he responds to what’s going on around him, and a measured approach allows Timothy to adjust his reactions,” says Rebecca.
Tim’s other interests include Tsukumogami (100 year old objects that have come to life), Power Rangers, robots and various animated TV shows such as Nature Cat, Rocko’s Modern Life, and Tiny Toon Adventures.
Here’s the link where you can purchase items with Tim’s impressive artwork.
For 40+ years, Boundless has provided people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges the freedom and opportunity to live boundless lives. We are constantly growing, and if you share our passion for people, we want you to join our team!
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical and fitness topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer. In 2022 she received a diagnosis of Level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder.