Cerebral palsy patient makes masterpieces

Paul Smith

I haven’t been this inspired in a long time, but a nursing home resident with cerebral palsy in Oregon has proven again that people with disabilities can do amazing things.

Mona Lisa
Paul Smith created an image of the Mona Lisa with his typewriter.

Paul Smith was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a child. He was unable to care for himself and needed assistance to eat, clothe and even bathe himself.

But Smith found out early on that with just the use of a single finger he could do incredible things. At 15 years old, he began using a typewriter to create pictures.

It didn’t take long until he was creating masterpieces, including those of the Last Supper and a version of the Mona Lisa, but Smith said what he enjoyed most was creating art of the places he visited.

Smith never married and had no children. He continued his work for many years and his works adorned the walls of the retirement facility where he stayed.

However, Smith developed cataracts and his typewriter art ended in 2004. He died in 2007.

Even as the parent of a child with special needs, it’s sometimes difficult to believe this kind of work would be possible for someone with such a severe disability.

I often find myself wondering what my son, J.P., who suffers from holoprosencephaly, knows and understands. He impresses me simply by the fact that when you get out his backpack or wheelchair, he knows he’s going somewhere.

The Last Supper
Paul Smith created a version of The Last Supper on his typewriter.

When J.P.’s favorite show comes on TV, he smiles. When you say the name of his canine companion, he looks for her.

Hearing the story of Smith gives me a wonderful feeling of knowing that there’s more going on in J.P.’s mind then I probably realize. That makes me very happy, and it almost makes me want to put a typewriter in front of J.P. to see what happens.

I challenge anyone who reads this post to remember the things Smith has done the next time you see someone with a disability on the street, and instead of thinking of all the things we know they can’t do, ask yourself what they might be able to do if given the chance.

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