Teen uses art to bring awareness to autism

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COLFAX, Wis-- A teenager who uses artwork to speak to the world is getting national attention.

We first introduced you to 18 year-old Jake Schindler, a year ago, when he donated his paintings to the Red Cedar Medical Center-Mayo Clinic Health System in Menomonie.

Jake, who has autism and is non-verbal, uses art to express himself, but what started out as a fun hobby has inspired dozens of letters and is creating more awareness for autism.

“This painting is my favorite it looks like a stem and a spring tulip," said Jake’s mom Christina Schindler.

For Christina the painting represents spring and a new beginning for her son. “That’s when Jake’s art all started in the spring," said Christina.

It was a year ago that Christina gave Jake a canvas and paint after she heard about people with autism using art as a form of communication and therapy technique.

"I just thought why not see how Jake does and it just took off from there," said Christina.

A year later, Jake's artwork is on display at three Mayo Clinic Hospitals around the Midwest; including the Red Cedar Clinic in Menomonie, at the Mayo Clinics in Prairie de Chen and in Waukon, Iowa.

“He's the creator and that’s what makes it so special,” said Christina.

Jake who uses very few words is speaking to thousands with his art. Using just his hands, he paints a picture of hope for kids with autism.

That’s the whole goal is to get the art out there and share it with other families. That there is hope and so people see ‘yea he has autism’ but look at what he can do,” said Christina.

Word of Jake’s paintings spread across the country quickly. In January, President Barack Obama sent him a letter thanking him for making a difference in his community.

“That is something he will have forever and something to cherish. It’s pretty special,” said Christina.

Jake and his mom say they are also looking to start a line of women’s accessories using his artwork to help raise money for the Autism Society of Wisconsin.

“The possibilities are endless,” said Christina.