Perception is always subjective. What one person sees is different from what the other sees. It all depends on how one wants to look at it. Ian, a 25 year old with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), perceives the world in a different light—an angle unique from our own.
Through his first camera, a Canon Powershot A560, Ian offers people a peek into his world and the world he sees through his camera’s lens. His grainy shot of a watch says that his world, like everyone else’s, is sometimes shaky and unstable. Ian’s scenic shot of yachts along the Manila Bay, on the other hand, shows that he also has his own share of peace, a state he enjoys only after taking his regular pills to manage his seizures and hyperactivity.
The photographs are just some of Ian’s works shown in the Colors of “A” Spectrum Exhibit recently held at the SM Mall of Asia. The exhibit also travelled to Baguio, Cavite, Cebu, Davao, Iligan, Quezon City and Iloilo to show to a wider audience how photography can change the lives of children with autism. It was the culminating activity of the free photography workshop that professional advertising photographer John Chua conducted for Ian and other members of the Autism Society Philippines (ASP).
Chua encouraged Ian’s mom to buy a simple point-and-shoot camera so mother and son can have a “bonding” activity. After seeing Ian’s shots, Chua was convinced that Ian and other children with autism have an eye for photography. This insight gave birth to the free photography workshop for the children with autism. The workshops, held in scenic places like the Manila Zoo and the Manila Ocean Park, became a venue for the children to develop their hidden talents. What Chua did was to urge parents to get their children involve in photography, which became a means by which families of children with autism can spend meaningful bonding time.
Chua said that with the children’s condition, lessons are limited to the basics of holding a camera and clicking buttons. But this did not hinder their creativity—the children were able to compose shots that were truly amazing.
ASP and Chua tapped Canon Marketing Philippines Inc. for the workshop and exhibit. Upon learning the objective of the workshop, the company did not hesitate to give a helping hand.
Canon came at the right place and at the right time. Its support was felt throughout the workshops and the exhibit. The children needed the proper equipment, so Canon lent them digital cameras and a printer for their use. For the exhibit, ASP also received exhibition print outs care of Canon PIXMA and Selphy printers. To ensure that ASP can continuously encourage kids to take photography, Canon also donated 10 Powershot A470 and 1 Selphy CP760 to the organization’s national office.
Canon believes that photography can bring out the best in people, and children with autism are no exception. It also advocates art as a catalyst of change in the lives of children with autism.
“We believe in what John Chua and the Autism Society Philippines are doing. There seems to be an invisible barrier between us and the world of children with autism. We want to help break that barrier,” Canon president and CEO Ramon Arteficio said.
The exhibit was definitely a new sight to see. Although everyday occurrences and scenic spots are the most evident themes of the children’s art, their works tell of places and stories that people, not even the ones close to them, often fail to notice.
Through the efforts of Canon, Autism Society Philippines and John Chua, photography was transformed into a means for people to connect to the once unknown parts of the lives of children with autism. This time, there won’t be any walls nor barriers, only generously opened windows and doors.