Teen with autism finds success through art
For 17-year-old Morgan Kitching, art has proven to be a therapy outlet.
At two years of age, Kitching was diagnosed with severe autism. Trish Jokat, Kitching’s mother, was told the outlook for her non-verbal son was glim at best.
"We were told he could be institutionalized, but that has changed since he started to pick up a paintbrush. We believe he is going to go places in life," said Jokat.
He comes from a family of artists. Both his mother and her partner, Pierre Sabourin, are life-long painters. It wasn’t until last summer when Kitching discovered his passion and talent.
The family was at their cottage last summer when the power went out. At a loss of how to keep Kitching occupied, Jokat had a thought.
“We had a studio inside the cottage,” Jokat says. “So, I said let’s throw up a board, throw up a pallet. So, we started small ones: 16x20, 12x16. So, he did a few and then he just kept looking at us. So we just kept putting more boards!”
By the end of the day, Kitching had painted 15 pieces of work.
Sabourin has become a mentor to the teenager.
“I was very fortunate to meet Morgan’s mom, who is also an artist. I met her at a painting excursion and we happened to fall in love,” Sabourin recalls. “She had Morgan, and so I had to learn how to love Morgan as well. It was a different type of circumstances. I’d never been involved in an autistic relationship.”
Sabourin says the difference in Kitching from when he first met him to how he has developed since painting has been significant.
"For a young man that I wasn't able to communicate with when I first met him, within a matter of weeks, I was able to communicate with him effectively and he was able to express his emotions to me very, very easily through canvas and paint," said Sabourin.
The family debuted their first-ever art show, 'Triple Love: Where Art Meets Autism' at One Sky in Sudbury.
Jokat is hopeful her son will be able to develop a career around his newfound skill, as he gets closer to adulthood.
She says the journey thus far has been both challenging and rewarding. While she often feels she must apologize for his behavior, she wants people to know there is so much more to her son than just the identity of being autistic.
"I always introduce him as my son who is able to swim, who's able to bike, who's able to hike, kayak. I've taught him to kayak,” said Jokat.
Through the show, Jokat hopes that she can shine a light on different ways those with autism can find support and success.
“Essentially, just to open people’s eyes that autism isn’t just mechanical toys, that there’s also other ways to teach a child,” Jokat says. “I have hopes for him. I have hopes that I think we're an example to many families who are feeling like they can just give up and throw in the towel. Don't!"
For more information on Kitching’s work you can click here.
The show will be on display at One Sky for the rest of the month of August. It will also be featured as part of the upcoming Up Here Festival.