“The combination of great abilities with great disabilities presents an extraordinary paradox: how can such opposites live side by side?”- Oliver Sacks
Meet Stephen Wiltshire. A guy with autism that shocked the world.
Well, if you still don't know him, let me give you a quick background of how he was able to drop the jaws of those who have seen him do his "magic".
Stephen has been a "difficult" student when he was a child. His teachers didn't know what to do with him. He was diagnosed with autism
at age three and wasn't able to say his first word, "paper", until age five.
While still communicably challenged, he showed his potentials by sketching stunningly accurate images of wildlife and caricatures of his teachers. Living in London, his drawings then became trickier and trickier, sketching the buildings he was seeing around. His older sister Annette saw how incredible his talent was and started taking him to her school friend's home who lived on the 14th floor of an apartment building. There, he could see the beauty and sprawling view of the city on which he let his eyes marvel and look at its nooks and crannies with undeniable awe. From that point on, she says, “his passion became obsessive.”
His incredible memory and really impressive detailed sketches led him to his first commission from the British prime minister (woah!) at age eight and was able publish his first book of drawings at age 13! He also met Oliver Sacks on a trip to New York and drew a perfect replica of his house just after taking a quick glance at it. This led the neurologist to write the mentioned quote in the foreword to Wiltshire’s second book. He just became better and better with age, creating lots of panorama of cityscapes with still remarkable details, each done from memory in perfect scale! You have to see it for yourself!
PHOTOGRAPH BY PAOLO WOODS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
He became a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2006, presented by Prince Charles, due to these amazing contributions to the art world. He then opened his own gallery in central London that same year. “Stephen is extremely humble and not fazed at all,” says Annette. Fame “hasn't altered his concentration or even made him nervous ... I think it pushes his abilities even further.”
He serves an inspiration to everyone, showing that no matter who you are or what your disabilities are, you'll always find a voice to speak out. Now, the once-silent artist can communicate easily with millions of people. “Stephen's art speaks a language that we can all understand,” she says.