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"Telling the story of his dreams is simple
for this artist with autism. He interprets his
dreams into colored drawings which reflect
his complex though processes."

-Artsiphartsi Art Studio

The battle for a more meaningful life is hard fought by adults with autism, who may sometimes find they are their own best advocates, even when they receive support from human service agencies. Such is the case with Edmund Finnegan, a man of dreams.

In November, 1996, Edmund's mother died, leaving him, at age 35, on his own. In time, Edmund contacted Cynthia Heffner of Florida's Developmental Services office in Lakeland to request help finding a job. As Cynthia's initial contacts failed to produce leads, she encouraged Edmund to contact CARD. When he did so, Mary Reed of CARD became his Support Specialist. Edmund, Mary, and Cynthia began to work collaboratively to find a job for Edmund.

In the meantime, Edmund also began independently to pursue a career as an artist. Edmund draws his dreams. Literally. He has an amazing memory for dreams of years past, which he recreates in humorously captioned drawings. Within months Edmund had developed not only his artistic talent, but also a flair for marketing. In ensuing months he gained a television interview with Fox 13 in Tampa; obtained representation by a premiere contemporary craft gallery, Artsiphartsi (which has hosted a one-man show of his work); and had his work exhibited in his hometown, at the Frostproof Art League Gallery.

As CARD worked to support Edmund in his effort to find a job, he worked to support CARD. He generously consented to be interviewed and featured in a recent CARD informational video, and he exhibited his drawings at CARD's first annual Autism Awareness Fair.

The work that Edmund, Mary, and Cynthia have been doing to find Edmund a job--a job that would leave some time for drawing--may also be coming to fruition. A recent work evaluation from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has resulted in a high likelihood that Edmund will receive job coaching services, and a job offer may already be on the horizon. In dreams begins responsibility.