Stephen Wiltshire, in short, draws the world with a precision that would boggle most neurotypical minds.
He didn’t speak his first word until he was five…When he was eleven, he drew a perfect aerial view of London after only one helicopter ride. Even the number of windows in all the major buildings in his drawing was correct.
Watch what happens after Stephen views Rome from above:
“Despite our doubts,” the narrator says, “Stephen has drawn one of the most complex buildings, the Colosseum, accurately.” Our favorite part of this clip, which comes from a longer video, is not till the very end, when the video abandons its suspenseful tone (“Will he draw it accurately?”) in favor of listening to Stephen’s own thoughts on the process.
This year, Stephen turned 40, and is supporting himself through his artwork. He is an incredible model for how those with autism should be encouraged to cultivate their talents.
Moreover, Stephen’s story makes clear, in contrast to a reigning argument about savants, that those with autism often have genuine creativity. Stephen is able not only to copy existing landscapes–a remarkable skill in itself–but to draw landscapes of his own devising, such as the ‘Globe of Imagination’ shown below midway through its creation in 2013.