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Esther Brokaw: Drawing Autism

By Darold Treffert, MD

Esther was born in New Jersey in 1960. As a young child her interest in art was encouraged by her Aunt Lois, who brought her art materials and took her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Esther showed strong visual spatial abilities but did not paint her first oil painting until she was 30. With no professional training or experience she completed an extraordinary oil painting of her daughter asleep in her crib. In 1985 Esther graduated from North Texas University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Plagued with numerous health problems throughout her life, including Celiac disease, mercury poisoning, severe pain, impaired vision, and uncontrollable twitching and jerking, Esther’s condition made it very difficult for her to paint. She eventually began studying the stock market by squinting at charts in bed with her laptop for days and weeks on end.

It wasn’t until 2004 that Esther was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and savant skills in pattern recognition. The diagnosis helped her to further understand her dual obsessions of impressionist painting and equity chart reading.

Today Esther is much healthier and continues to recover from her illnesses in Southeastern Connecticut with her husband, two teenage daughters, and three dogs. She continues to paint beautiful impressionist oil paintings of scenes, people, and sights that inspire her from photos she has taken herself. Some of her artwork has recently been published in the newly released book Drawing Autism and she is beginning to exhibit her art throughout the United States. It has been said of her landscape paintings that Esther seems to “capture every leaf in the forest and every beam of light.” To view Esther’s work, please visit www.savantgallery.com.


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For more information, please contact:
Darold A. Treffert, MD
St. Agnes Hospital, Fond du Lac Wisconsin
Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison
Personal website: www.daroldtreffert.com
E-mail: daroldt@charter.net