On this occasion, the To He project held an exhibit titled “Iu.Iu.Iu.”, showcasing the artwork of seven autistic children at 8 Do Quang street, Hanoi. The event aims to open a window on autistic children’s values and abilities through their artwork, inspire families with autistic kids, and change the community awareness of autism. The exhibit, part of the “Light It Up Blue 2018” campaign, run until April,30.

The exhibit is full of colorful paintings and paper-mache figures, all made by little artists who want to show off their inner worlds to others.

The exhibit is full of colorful paintings and paper-mache figures, all made by little artists who want to show off their inner worlds to others.

Visitor Vu Hai Phuong, said, “I heard about To He’s activities a long time ago. At first, I thought autistic children could only paint scrawling pictures and draw simple things. I changed my mind when I saw this exhibit. It was a big surprise for me. The work looks professional in both techniques and ideas. I really like it, especially the work of an artist named Ha Dinh Chi.”

The “Iu.Iu.Iu” exhibit was organized by To He, a social enterprise established in 2006. To He’s social fields include To He Fun and To He Bank. To He Fun is a weekly free art program for disabled and disadvantaged children, that nurtures their confidence and helps them discover their creativity. To He Bank is Vietnam’s first online gallery of kid's paintings. It displays children’s paintings regardless of nationality, ethnicity or circumstances.

This exhibit includes paintings selected from both To He Fun and To He Bank, on the theme of “Love”.

Tran Thanh Loan, To He’s director of social work and education, said, “The artwork here reveals love through the eyes of autistic children. Love is all around us, but in the autistic children’s world, love is something much more special. For parents whose child is autistic, “love” allows them to understand and accept their children for who they are. For To He, “love” is what has empowered us to go with autistic children on such a long journey, nearly 12 years. We hope visitors will feel this love through the artwork and the stories behind it.”

The painting showcased at the exhibit

“Iu.Iu.Iu” contains the artwork of 7 little artists with autism. Each artist has their own way of expressing themselves. For example, Van Minh Duc likes to start a painting with numbers and flags. His paintings are bright and colorful. Ha Dinh Chi, better known as “Nem”, can draw in any medium using anything that comes to hands. Binh Minh loves animals and loves creating paper-mache figures.

Simple things, familiar people, and the beautiful world all around, provide subjects for their paintings, which are full of love.

Teacher Nguyen Thu Hang from To He Fun, who has supported these artists from the early days, said, “We were very happy and worked hard to prepare for this exhibit. Autistic children have their own world, which is pure and adorable. We decided on the name “Iu.Iu.Iu”, a way of saying “Love” in Vietnamese.

Here, it’s the love of the little artists for art, for their family, for the volunteers, and for the world. The name was chosen because children with autism tend to make repetitive sounds throughout the day, so the sound “Iu iu iu” is something very familiar to them.”

Autism severely affects a child’s ability to communicate and socialize. Autistic children need more love, compassion, patience, and support than most children their age. Autistic children must follow a longer, more difficult path to art. It took time and great efforts by the family and the volunteers to make friends, to understand, and to guide the children to a passion for art. To He has two types of classes for autistic children.

Thu Hang said, “We have a weekly program for children with a special background - orphans, the poor, ethnic minorities, and children disabled physically or mentally. In this program, they have a chance to learn about art through fun activities.

A lot of skills needed to work with autistic children. Volunteers need time to design good lessons, work to make the children trust you, discover their strengths and then develop it

For autistic children who show talent, we have special coaching classes where they can learn freely, led by their inborn curiosity. We invite art teachers and artists to give the children advanced art lessons so their talent can be fully developed. The artwork of the children in those classes are exhibited or sold so they can earn money from what they make.”

Art therapy can benefit children on the autism spectrum practically and emotionally. Making drawings allows autistic children to communicate thoughts and feelings they may otherwise struggle to express.

Thanh Loan said, “Autistic children want to receive care and love from other people, but ordinary people can’t read that message, and they don’t know how to tell us what they want. Participating in art programs can open the door for communication that may otherwise be difficult for an individual on the autism spectrum.

Through art, they let others know their feelings and thoughts. When they’re happy, they choose bright colors like orange, red, yellow, and green, but when they’re sad, their paintings are covered with dark colors.”

Le Ngoc Thu is the mother of Van Minh Duc, whose work is on display in this exhibit. She said, “Duc loves drawing so much. When he gets angry and can’t control his emotions, drawing is the solution. You just need to give him paper and crayons. He will sit there and draw immediately. All sadness or bad emotions will be gone when the picture is finished.”

According to Thu Hang, a lot of skills needed to work with autistic children. She said, “It’s hard to create a program for autistic children because the work depends on volunteers. To become a volunteer, you have to undergo training in art as well as in necessary soft skills for working with autistic children. This takes months to complete.

You need time to design good lessons, work to make the children trust you, discover their strengths and then develop it. Every child is a treasure, even autistic children.”

Autistic children need support, respect and love in order to have a normal life. This exhibit is a small success, a way to kindle their hope.

Source: VOV/ Photo: To He