May 20, 2019

Student with autism uses art to overcome hurdles

Story by Kenya Rosabal

Abby Peevers won’t let autism get in the way of pursuing her passions. At three years old, Peevers was diagnosed with a form of autism called Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).

Peevers is a freshman at Webster University, double majoring in art and music. Peevers has an emphasis in ceramics and an interest in making sculptures. As for music, Peevers credited her family’s musical history for her talents. Growing up, Peevers sang in her church’s choir. She started playing piano when she was younger, and now has branched to more instruments like guitar and the clarinet.

Peevers said one disadvantage of autism is medication, which she’s taken for 10 years. She said she initially didn’t want to take medication, but realized it’s necessary. Now, she is okay with people knowing she has to take medication.

“Other people have a choice whether or not to do drugs,” Peevers said. “But here I was, my doctor and family, telling me I had to take this pill every morning.”

According to Peevers, creating art helped her become more in control of herself. Peevers said she processes information at a slower rate and doing work takes longer compared to others. Now, art hasbecome a form of solace for her.

Peevers’ parents, Jeanette and David Peevers, said they’ve always known art was Peevers true calling. Peevers’ family credited the previous schools she attended for having great art programs, mixed with her natural gift for art.

Abby Peevers’ preferred visual art medium is sculptures. Peevers said she uses art to control herself and find solace.

Peevers said she finally felt as if she’s catching on, which wasn’t always the case. Peevers expressed that she had doubts about her knowledge of the art world when she took a creative strategies class her first semester of college. She said that the class made her question why she created art at all.

“I came to Webster to do art, not question if I’m supposed to be doing art,” Peevers said.

Peevers said she appreciated the art department’s flexibility for students. She said art is one of her best ways of communicating because art can explain itself.

“They [the art department]  don’t focus so much on physical skill and precision because everyone has different skills,” Peevers said. “The department focuses more on portraying ideas and using art as a form of communication.”

Peevers said she doesn’t take the term “weird” as a bad thing. She learned to own the word in her own way.

“I had to overcome not being able to focus,” Peevers said. “Art and music are some of the things I’m able to do, even when it’s late at night and I feel like I’m losing control of myself”.

Peevers’ parents said they couldn’t remember a time Peevers was shy. Peevers considered herself an outgoing person, calling herself a social butterfly. Classmate Brooke Connor agreed that she has a fun-loving personality.

“Kids on the spectrum can have social difficulties. That can be one of the most challenging parts, Jeanette Pevers said. “Combined with her personality, she has made an extra effort to get to know people and connect with them.”

Peevers said she did not see her autism as a bad thing. She embraces it and has never attempted to hide her autism.

“I might as well tell people because otherwise, they are going to think I’m really weird,” Peevers said.

After graduation, she would like to make a living by combining her art and music. Her parents said they will support her and her dream. Peevers said she keeps a positive attitude and wants to continue that for life.

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