“Through Our Windows”
A view of the world through the eyes of autistic children

Pameran Lukisan
Toto. (IO/Pebriawan)

Toto’s greatest challenge is frequently not in teaching the children to paint per se, but to convince the parents that their child is special and has potential. “That’s the hardest thing I need to do – convince everyone around the child that ‘Look, this is the world standard for artistic works nowadays. These children’s works are good – they have a potential to compete against non-special need artists’, that’s the approach that I must use every time,” he said. 

Toto went on to admit that teaching special need children is very challenging. “I really need to thoroughly review each child’s artistic expression that can identify them personally. Different child, different approach. I might use one approach for A, modify it to suit B’s needs, adapt it again for C, etc.” 

Read: Slingshot: glorifying a traditional game

These different creative processes also force Toto to use different approaches for the child’s parents and environs in detecting the child’s abilities from their habit. “I must first observe the child’s habits. For example, how do they make a stroke in drawing or shading? How do they use color? What colors do they favor? How do they hold their pencils and brushes?” Toto said. “Then I need to see in what kind of work do they show most joy in, when do they repeat his work and persist with it. I need to see what kind of work they do that makes them smile. Only then will I rate the child’s best artistic values. When I find out all of these things, I will inform the child and their parents, and discuss with them about the best way to develop the child’s works so that they have distinct individual characteristics.” 

Toto’s work is a long, hard path that requires the involvement of many more people. He simply hopes that more people can help him help his students find something that will bring them joy. “That’s the most important thing for me, that they can become happy in society and contribute to it in their own way,” he said. (UN)