The Children's Institute Blog

Blooming with Artistic Talent

Posted: Oct 02, 2019 by The Children's Institute

Jarrod Edson holding a piece of his artwork
Young Jarrod Edson loved to doodle – and his autism is an asset to his artistry. For Jarrod, drawing was subconscious. While his attention was focused on other activities, Jarrod’s hand would be busy transferring his thoughts to paper.

“Jarrod’s doodles quickly became elaborate,” remembers his mother, Kuhoo. “By the time he was five, Jarrod was creating prolific, abstract artwork on just about any surface he could find.”

But during pre-adolescence, Jarrod’s interest in art disappeared with the onset of chronic pain and other debilitating physical symptoms, the result of migraines, fibromyalgia, and the circulatory disorder POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome). It became difficult for him to hold a pencil in his hand, and his interests turned to building with Legos and playing video games.

Jarrod Edson holding a piece of his artwork“By the time Jarrod was nine, the migraines had become our primary focus,” Kuhoo explains. “We searched everywhere for treatments that could relieve his pain and improve the quality of his life, including alternative medicine in countries as far away as Peru. It was only after our family moved to Pittsburgh in November 2014 – and discovered The Children’s Institute – that life really changed for the better.”

Jarrod was well suited for The Children’s Institute’s pain management program. Physical therapy helped him find some relief from his migraines and other chronic pain, while occupational therapy encouraged the mastering of life skills with less physical discomfort. Through therapy and the use of adaptive equipment, Jarrod regained dexterity and re-connected with art.

Now 20, Jarrod is an emerging artist who began showing his drawings in 2018 after graduating from high school, first at the Shadyside Arts Festival and then at the Anja Whitemyer Fine Art Gallery in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Jarrod’s artwork began with paper and pencil, which he would then scan, digitize, and colorize. As he has continued to master his art, he’s moved into digital drawings. By zooming in on the screen of his design program, Jarrod is able to create the most intricate detail within every colorful piece of art. From a wide array of dogs, to jungle animals and bugs, and to sea creatures and underwater plant life, Jarrod draws what he loves.

“Jarrod works on his art up to six hours a day and hopes to make it his livelihood,” Kuhoo explains. “This is just one gift he received from The Children’s Institute. Jarrod lives a full life by managing his chronic pain through rigorous daily exercise, a passion his physical therapist instilled in him. He also has been exposed to kids with all kinds of different abilities who are making a positive difference in the world around them, and now Jarrod is having an impact, too.”

Visit to see Jarrod's digital artwork. He donates a portion of his profits back to The Children's Institute to help support the programs and services that helped him blossom.

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