MIAMI (CBSMiami) — April is World Autism Month which was created to help increase understanding and acceptance.
CBS4’s Marybel Rodriguez introduces us to a young South Florida boy with autism who expresses himself through his art and he does it with grace, determination and perseverance.
Eleven-year old Matthew Lopez is a sweet, intelligent boy with an amazing gift.
“He is my little genius. He is my little big artist,” said Matthew’s mother, Jessica Gamarra.
Matthew has more than 500 paintings. Every inch of his Miami home is filled with his works of art.
“I take a picture with his tablet, if he likes, he paints,” explained Gamarra.
For Matthew, his early beginnings didn’t come easy. When he was 18-months-old, he still did not walk or talk. He barely slept and became obsessed with little things. At the age of two, doctors told his mother, he would never speak.
“It’s not easy. It’s hard when Matthew was two, three years old he would eat walls, cables, his poop and hit his head everywhere. It was terrible,” she recalled.
Matthew was diagnosed with severe autism, but his mother was determined to help him succeed and not let his condition define him. She worked tirelessly to help him. She bought him puzzles, crayons, paint and took him to intense therapy. But it was the paint that drew him in.
“Matthew surprised me, he started writing in English and Spanish and paint whatever he want,” said Gamarra.
It’s Matthew’s will and determination that gives his mother strength.
“I look at them and say if they can do it why can’t I learn everything from them,” she said.
Gamarra who also has a 13-year-old daughter with autism is certain Matthew is expressing himself through his art. It’s that love and talent his mother wants to share and is now inviting everyone into Matthew’s World.
“People have to learn what is autism, it’s a condition how they live in their world. We have to respect them and love them like they are,” said Gamarra.
If you’d like to learn more about Matthew’s World, you can attend an event on World Autism Day hosted by Matthew’s mother on April 11 at Urbe University in Doral, Florida.
NEED MORE INFORMATION ABOUT AUTISM: SEE THE LINKS BELOW
- University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (UM-NSU-CARD)
- Autism Speaks
- Autism Now
- Operation Autism for Military Families