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Surrey art program helps one young man with autism express himself

An art piece from Studio Seventy Three. Facebook

VANCOUVER – Surrey resident April Linke cannot sing the praises of a local art program called Studio Seventy Three enough.

Her son Kurt is now 21 and was diagnosed with autism 11 years ago.

“He’s delightful,” said Linke. “He has a good sense of humour and he’s a hard worker.”

When he was two-and-a-half, Kurt barely spoke to anyone, and essentially stopped talking at all within a year.

While April hired a speech pathologist for Kurt, it took years of meetings with doctors before he was officially diagnosed with autism. By that time, Kurt was 10, and the amount of funding available was significantly reduced.

MORE: Despite some funding, a diagnosis of autism is a huge financial burden.

After struggling to get Kurt into affordable programs, Linke discovered Studio Seventy Three, and Kurt is now thriving.

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The program is completely funded by the Community Living Society and is a program for people with autism who are artistically inclined.

“This is such a great opportunity for Kurt because it gives him real world consequences,” said Linke. “His confidence has improved tremendously.”

Linke said she is relieved to have found Studio Seventy Three, but isn’t satisfied with the overall support given to older children with autism.

“One of the things that I kind of resent is that the outside world can make it harder, ” she said. “You put Kurt in school and the services available aren’t enough.”

“The waiting list for services are too long.”

She received $6,000 a year for Kurt’s Applied Behaviour Analysis treatment until he turned 18, but says that budgeting was a challenge.

“I’m not sounding ungrateful because kids with ADHD get nothing,” she said.

Linke wishes more programs like Studio Seventy Three would exist for young adults with autism.

“These are people that are salvageable,” she said, “but we aren’t willing to spend the money.”

You can help support Studio Seventy Three by visiting their art sale this Saturday, April 19, at 6480 138 St., Surrey. To learn more, go to their Facebook page.

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