15-year-old boy with autism uses art as an outlet, raises $16K for research through his greeting cards

MADISON -- A 15-year-old boy with autism loves art and is very talented. In partnership with the Waisman Center at UW-Madison, he's showcasing his line of greeting and holiday cards, and they are on sale this holiday season.

According to a news release from UW officials, Giizhik Klawiter (whose name means "white cedar" in Ojibwe), was diagnosed with autism when he was a 5-year-old boy. He learned to draw before he learned to speak. His mother, Pam says drawing became an outlet for him to express himself.

The greeting cards were developed beginning when he was 6.

According to UW officials, the first cards featured black-and-white drawings of a Christmas tree ornament and a candy cane.

The boy's mom took them to craft fairs and retailers in the family’s community in Sawyer County.

When he was 7, Giizhik worked in color, depicting his home at the holidays, complete with his cat and younger brother, Mino, sitting in front of the fireplace.

Buyers began snatching them up. The cards now include designs for all occasions.

Additionally, Giizik has begun to use computers to create his art, and his brother Mino designs some as well.

Over 7 years, they've raised more than $16,000 for autism research at the Waisman Center.

You can purchase Giizhik’s cards by clicking here.

They'll be sold at the Waisman Center on Jan. 18 from 9:00 a.m. to noon in the center's lobby at 1500 Highland Avenue in Madison, and you can meet Giizik and his mom Pam.