Taylor’s Autism Speaks Blog
In early November, 2011, Dad and I loaded a large painting I’d created for Autism Speaks into our minivan and drove the 1100 miles from Missouri to New York City to present it to them. Because the painting was so big, it probably took me longer to complete it than any other painting I’ve ever done. In the middle of the painting is the blue puzzle piece that is the symbol for Autism Speaks. The overland around the puzzle piece is the color complement of blue, variations of the color orange. Small hearts are lined up throughout the painting; in the orange area the hearts are warm colors; red, orange, and yellow; in the puzzle piece, the hearts are cool colors; green, purple, and blue. The hearts are intended to depict the feelings that people with autism have that many people don’t realize they possess. They also symbolize the love and care that parents, teachers, and other mentors give people with autism.
I presented this painting in a small conference room in the Autism Speaks offices. Just as you wrap presents up for birthdays and holidays so whoever it’s for can’t see what it is until it’s time, I put a big cloth over the painting as we brought it in so I could “reveal” what it was when I got there. It was to be hung in that same room, and I understand that in honor of that painting, they renamed it the “Taylor Crowe Conference Room.” I was videotaped unveiling the painting and talking about it. A few short hours later, an editor at Autism Speaks put that footage on the web for people on the internet to enjoy.
Although I’ve had my driver’s license for 13 years, because of my autism it has taken longer for me to master the art of driving than most people, so I still sometimes need parental supervision when I drive. I continually get better and better. On this trip I got lots of highway driving in, but I also felt I needed experience driving in New York City, so I drove with dad supervising! It wasn’t so much dangerous as it was slow; it took forever just to get in and out of one street! Although I needed the experience and Dad said I did great, I never wanna drive in New York City again, it’s just too nerve-wracking! I was always told that defensive driving is hard with autism because those of us with autism expect other drivers to follow the rules, but drivers in Manhattan don’t drive defensively, either! They drive offensively!
Former NBC head Bob Wright founded Autism Speaks after his retirement circa 2005 to spread hope and seek help for his grandson who had recently received an autism diagnosis. Wright and wife Suzanne are very committed to helping their grandson and future generations of autistic children. I did not see the Wrights on the trip when I delivered the painting, but I did meet them in April, 2010. On that trip I was involved in a dinner with retired basketball stars from the NBA, including my cousin who played for the Knicks, Bill Bradley. I got to introduce him when he spoke that evening. Since Bradley and Wright know each other and both have relatives with autism, that evening was very important to them. I was quite proud to be there.