This is truly one of the most amazing and inspiring stories we’ve ever read. The following is a testament to the power of art, the creative process, and how therapeutic creating art can be, even for the most physically challenged.
Armando “Mandi” Saltiel was born with a severe form of polymicrogyria (abnormal development of the brain before birth) that restricted his ability to communicate via eye movements. There are additional complications that can occur, including weak muscles, respiratory issues, and even difficulty breathing. His parents became afraid that “Mandi” was going to give up and withdraw even more from the rest of the world.
With their backs against the wall, his parents came to the realization that allowing Mandi to make art became his salvation. Even though Mandi can barely move his head, he has managed to find a way to create art.
With the help of artist and art therapist Julie Ludwick, Mandi is capable of expressing his thoughts with his art whereas before, he was unable to verbalize or communicate in a meaningful way. Ludwick and Saltiel eventually figured out an effective way of communicating and creating art together through eye movements, wrist straps, paint brushes and lots of questions!
Some of the artwork can take almost 6 months to complete (about 2 hours per week) and may contain things like paint, strips of photos, stones, and even seashells. Saltiel’s desire and drive are both a result of and a contributor to his progress in creating art. There is no doubt that creating art has improved Mandi’s quality of life.
You can read the whole story here.
Images courtesy of Keri Wiginton & Chicago Tribune