Candace Waters -Nonverbal Autistic Artist
by Leslie Burby
When Candace was a toddler she was progressing at a normal rate. Her parents Sandy and Rob report that she was speaking 25 words and then all of a sudden she lost her speech and all her motor skills between two and a half and three years of age. When she was three, she was diagnosed with a severe form of autism and started services to rebuild her fine motor skills. They were devastated and had no idea what autism entailed.
So when Diana, of Soaring Eagle Academy School asked Candace’s parent’s to have her do a painting to raise funds for the newly built autism specific school at six years old they weren’t sure painting was possible with her limited motor skills. However, since the school supplied the canvas and supplies they figured it would be worth a try.
To their amazement, their daughter produced a beautiful painting of a sun, which they attribute to them singing to her. Candace loves music just as her parents do, but now they learned Candace loved to paint and had a new activity to enjoy with their daughter. That first painting of the sun sold at the fundraising auction for $100. Sandy and Rob Waters were amazed and proud of their little girl.
Candace (or more commonly known as Candy) just turned thirteen years old this September and has sold many paintings since that first sun. Now her prints are for sale on http://www.kindtree.org/marketplace/artists/candace-waters as notecards or reprints; they hang in Park Ridge City Hall, Illinois Senator Dan Kotowski’s Chicago Office and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s Chicago Office; and are featured in the books Artism: The Art Of Autism and The Art of Autism: Shifting Perceptions. Also, Something Special Magazine featured Candy’s art on their Winter 2013 cover and the University of California, Irvine Magazine featured Candy’s “Mr. Sun” painting on the cover of their summer 2013 issue to shed light on their efforts to help those affected by autism. Candy has been featured in several news broadcasts as well. In addition to this list of achievements, the Waters are very excited and honored to hear that Candy’s artwork and bio will soon be displayed at the new Dan Marino Foundation Florida Vocational College for adults with autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other developmental delays to help transition them from high school to functional adulthood to read more about the new transitional school click here http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2012-02-07/health/fl-dan-marino-vocational-campus-20120207_1_developmentally-disabled-students-plans-downtown-marino-foundation.
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Half of the sales from Candy’s artwork is donated to helping autism related organizations such as: Autism Speaks, Kindtree (which helps artists), Soaring Eagle Academy http://soaringeagleacademy.org/index.php, and Erik’s Ranch http://www.eriksranch.org/. It is undeniable that this little girl from Illinois has made a big impact and reached many people.
In an effort to help other parents, Sandy and Rob Waters started an Autism Awareness Radio Show “The Candy Store” on Blog Talk Radio. The Radio Show is named after Candace who we nicknamed “Candy.” http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thecandystore Their goal is to increase autism awareness and compassion and to empower other parents with knowledge. They reach out to other parents who have children with autism to let them know that they are not alone and never give up “Faith, Love & Hope!” Here is a link to the song that Sandy and Rob Waters wrote to inspire people https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFK02rXi4Fc.
Sandy and Rob Waters have made it clear that although they admittedly knew nothing about autism when their daughter was diagnosed ten years ago, that they are determined to educate, raise awareness, and instill faith, love and hope. There is no denying that they love their daughter and feel truly blessed to have found an alternate means of communication through the use of art and music. The Waters say that painting brings joy to Candy, which makes them happy. Sandy Waters lives by her saying, “When words fail, music and art speak even if your child is non-verbal just be patient and love.”
They say that Candy smiles every time she gets a “Like” on Facebook so please “Like” her page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Candy-Waters-Autism-Artist/559925447386478. To watch Candy paint you can click on the You Tube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bso4a3CshTA&feature=youtu.be “Balloons” Print notecard from http://www.kindtree.org/marketplace/designs/48 For more ways to reach out to the Waters http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Waters/1063620297 http://www.myspace.com/sandywaters http://twitter.com/zztop62 [email protected] Sources: Rob and Sandy Waters phone interview http://www.kindtree.org/marketplace/artists/candace-waters http://geekclubbooks.com/2013/08/candace-waters-autism-artist/