Meet Malcolm

Learn more about this gifted 16-year old artist

At the age of 3, Malcolm received the diagnosis of PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified). The label was vague, but the implications were clear, placing him on the autism spectrum. His particular version of this diagnosis means that expressive language is difficult, although he has a very good receptive vocabulary. Malcolm reads fluently, but answers questions best in multiple choice format. He is given to self-talk, typically reciting passages from his favorite videos. He often stims with his hands, or through happy, high-pitched squeals. He can do self-care tasks, but almost always needs a prompt.

Although his challenges are great, his gifts far outnumber them. He is very musical–plays the drum set and sings, sometimes while playing chords on the piano. He is a sweet, funny, friendly, loving young man, and a favorite at his high school. If you bang your elbow, he’s the first to ask if you’re okay.  He loves to cook.

His most obvious gift, however, is his artistic talent, which began to emerge at around the time that he was diagnosed as autistic. He began by recreating the drawings on Blues Clues, and has continued to progress since then.

Malcolm started decorating tiles in 9th grade, at the request of his learning support teacher.

Malcolm started decorating tiles in 9th grade, at the request of his learning support teacher. His creations, often custom made, were relatively simple cartoons which were sold at local bazaars to benefit the classroom. The idea of doing the elaborate designs he is now working on came from his desire to earn money to travel to an amusement park in Amsterdam he’d seen on Youtube, Julianatoren. It is my hope and prayer, as his mother, that his art can take him much further.

The Celtic crosses were his grandmother’s idea–on a summer visit to Pennsylvania, she commissioned him to create souvenirs for her friends back in Canada.  It’s difficult to overstate the care and precision required to finish these tiles. The colors can’t be erased, since they are oil-based. The circles are traced, but everything within them is done freehand.

As a result, no two are exactly alike. They are never completely symmetrical, but I think there is a message in this: that “perfection” isn’t a requirement for beauty.

The pictures on this site are samples: Malcolm can customize your decorative tiles with color schemes within the following palette: medium blue, light blue, silver, gold, orange, red, yellow, light green, medium purple, black and white.

A self-portrait, by Malcolm.

Perfection isn't a requirement for beauty.

Malcolm sharing another one of his loves: singing!

If you enjoyed this performance, you will love this one, in which he sings “Different” from the Broadway musical, Honk.
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