16 October 2015

CUHK holds “The Talent Within: Painting Exhibition of Autistic Teenagers”



The Department of Psychology and the University Library of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) will hold the “The Talent Within: Painting Exhibition of Autistic Teenagers” at the Exhibition Area, University Library, CUHK, from 16 October 2015 till 31 Jan 2016.  An opening ceremony is being held today (16 October). 

Officiating at the ceremony are Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President, CUHK; Prof. Ng Yuet-lau, President, Ling Ngai Art Association; Prof. Patrick W.L. Leung, Chairperson of the Department of Psychology, CUHK; and Ms. Louise Jones, University Librarian. 

The Exhibition aims to cultivate positive attitudes towards children with cognitive disorders and will encourage parents who have children with special educational needs.  All members of the general public are welcome.  Admission is free. 

33 pieces of nature-themed paintings created by 15 autistic teenagers aged from 6-19 will be exhibited.  The beautiful paintings of forest, trees and animals were created under the guidance of Professor Ng and some volunteers.  Thomas, one of the autistic painters, has been under the care of Prof. Chan Sui-yin at the Department of Psychology of CUHK for over ten years. Although Thomas is unable to communicate with others effectively, he is able to express himself through pens and paper. 

Professor Chan has conducted research on the cognitive dysfunction of autism for over ten years.  She is an experienced clinical neuropsychologist, specializing in dementia, autism, amnesia and hyperactivity disorders. She has recently investigated a Chinese healing concept, Chanwuyi, as a possible method to improve cognitive and emotional problems.  The findings were published in high ranking US journals including Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Journal of Affective Disorders.  Professor Chan is also using this method to help Thomas to improve his cognitive and self-control abilities, so that he can show his talent in paintings. 

Professor Chan said, “Autistic persons are not good at communications, they are unable to express their feelings.  However, all humans are born with certain talents, even children with developmental dysfunction.  They will be able to show their talents if they receive support from their parents and teachers.  In the past, Thomas reacted with temper outburst when making an error in painting.  I am glad to see that today when he makes an error in his paintings, he is able to correct it in his way. The paintings drawn by him before and after the treatment are not the same.  His mind has now changed, becoming more intellectual and beautiful!” 

Thomas’s father said, “We appreciate the guidance and help given to Thomas by the Department of Psychology, CUHK over the past years.  In the past, Thomas could only draw simple lines.  Now, Thomas is able to draw colorful paintings.  We hope that the exhibition can encourage parents of autistic children to make every effort to help develop their children’s talents.” 

For more details about the exhibition, please visit: http://lib.cuhk.edu.hk/tc/about/news/spc-talent

One of the Autistic painters, Thomas Ho.
One of the Autistic painters, Thomas Ho.

(From left) Prof. Ng Yuet-lau, President, Ling Ngai Art Association; Thomas and his parents Mr. and Mrs. Ho; Prof. Joseph Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK; Prof. Patrick Leung, Chairperson, Department of Psychology, CUHK; Ms. Louise Jones, University Librarian; and Prof. Agnes Chan, Professor, Department of Psychology, CUHK.
(From left) Prof. Ng Yuet-lau, President, Ling Ngai Art Association; Thomas and his parents Mr. and Mrs. Ho; Prof. Joseph Sung, Vice-Chancellor and President of CUHK; Prof. Patrick Leung, Chairperson, Department of Psychology, CUHK; Ms. Louise Jones, University Librarian; and Prof. Agnes Chan, Professor, Department of Psychology, CUHK.

Mr. Ho presents a painting of Thomas to Prof. Joseph Sung.
Mr. Ho presents a painting of Thomas to Prof. Joseph Sung.

A recent painting of Thomas.
A recent painting of Thomas.

A recent painting of Thomas.
A recent painting of Thomas.

A recent painting of Thomas.
A recent painting of Thomas.

Thomas’s painting before intervention
Thomas’s painting before intervention

Thomas’s painting after one-year intervention
Thomas’s painting after one-year intervention