Back in April, Rylan and I were discussing entrepreneurship (is that a word?) during home school time.  In an effort for someone else to explain the amount of work that goes into starting a business, we took a field trip to a local cafe to interview Lennon, the founder and head baker extraordinaire.  She talked to him about her journey and he informed her with confidence that he was going to start an art business.  News to me.  She reacted with enthusiasm and offered the use of her cafe if he wanted to do an art show.  When I saw the look on his 10 year old face, I knew this art show was going to be in our future.  After much discussion about why a show featuring Pokemon characters wouldn’t be enticing to the general public, we landed on a theme of artwork depicting what it feels like to live in his brain.  A complex topic to say the very least.  He was game and he began (slowly) creating drawings and descriptions for the many intricacies he lives with.  Midway through our prep, I decided it could be interesting to add the parent perspective to the show and put together short pieces from this blog and photos to match.

We mounted our work to gator boards, hired our favorite art therapist to do some 3d projects with him and Lennon worked out the food, booze and cafe details.  On Friday, July 7th we set up the show and welcomes 80+ people into Charm 3 Cafe to tour the Strokes of Genius Art Show.  It was awesome friends.  Kinda felt like our wedding being surrounded by so many people who support us and love our littles.  My heart was full.  Rylan greeted people (after they wrote their names in chalk outside), Reagan and all our little people guests did art projects outside with our therapist friend, and guests silently toured, read, and learned more about our little man than they possibly could have expected.  People approached me in tears, explaining how moved they were and how overwhelmed they felt by the honesty of what they saw and read.  Again, my heart was full.  People came through the Tourettes Facebook group I belong to, which was incredibly meaningful.  An adult man who lives with Tourettes told me the show was like walking back through his childhood and seeing his feelings put into words.


This experience was a labor of love for both Rylan and me.  As I typed out his verbal descriptions for the artwork, I had to stop a number of times and catch my breath.  I know this little boy better than anyone on planet earth, and I learned nuggets of valuable and heartbreaking info as we worked together.  For him it’s no bigee.  It’s just him and he doesn’t see any of it as a “thing.”  He has no idea the impact of his little art show.  The event itself made his brain feel “depressed” and he kept asking to go home so he could relax.  Not a surprise for anyone who walked through the show. I’m so proud of him and his desire to teach people about his brain.  I hope to continue adding to his show and set it up in places where people can benefit from an insiders peak into the brain of a kiddo living with special needs.  It’s quite a peek if I do say so myself.

Rylan is selling copies of all the pieces below as part of his first effort at being an entrepreneur.  He’d donating 50% of all his sales to the Tourette Syndrome Association.  You can contact us if you’re interested in purchasing one of his prints.  Descriptions for each print are included on the back side of each piece.  One print is $15 and two prints are $25.  Thanks for taking time to understand Rylan and so many other kiddos like him better.  If you live in the Denver area you can tour his show at Charm 3 Cafe in Centennial.  Lennon is leaving his work on display through the summer.  Rylan’s little sis, Reagan, has a canvas for sale too!  




By:  Rylan Vogelzang

I found a painting of waves at therapy that calmed me.  I wanted to buy it, but Mom keeps saying no because I don’t have $50.  She decided I could copy it for my art show.  The painting calmed me because it felt like going to the beach and swimming.  Waves rush toward the shore and have to relax when they break on the ground.  When they hit the shore they stop and the water relaxes and lets it trickle down the the water.  Then the water gets hit by another wave and another and another….. I like it when I know what will happen and when it sounds calm and predictable.

BOSS BRAIN  (not for sale)


By:  Rylan Vogelzang

This brain includes all my joy.  The joy is yellow and it’s all over because joy is my main emotion.  Have you seen Inside Out?  I think I have two Joys living in my brain.  The inside circle includes emotions I don’t really think about like anger, fear, disgust, and sadness.  I don’t feel these emotions a lot.  Like, I do get angry, but not a lot and it goes away fast because all my other thoughts take over like a snap.  God made me to have all that joy inside.  


By:  Rylan Vogelzang

The save key saves things I need to keep in my mind, but I don’t want to use right away.  I save writing, reading, math, music etc.  All the stuff I learn gets saved in the junk file and then I’m able to start a whole new file for things I learn next.  Sometimes there’s too much in my mind and it would fill up way too many Google docs, so the Save button helps me to clear my mind.    Then I can start a new Google doc.  I have SO many Google docs in my brain.  



By:  Rylan Vogelzang

When I get touched it feels like needles or nails poking my skin.  It doesn’t really hurt, but it’s uncomfortable.  When I know someone is going to touch me, it feels like I’m about to get a shot.  I might move my body to get away or bend my back if someone is touching my back.  If someone touches my shoulders I might freak out.  I try to say, “Please don’t touch me,” because I want them to get away, but I don’t want them to get mad.  It works pretty well.  The pokey feelings goes away right away after I get touched.  I like it when people ask to give me hugs because sometimes that’s okay.  

It’s confusing, but I like to touch other people with squeezes.  My body feels so relaxed after I squeeze.  This gets me in trouble a lot because it’s not appropriate to squeeze anything that’s alive.  But do NOT squeeze me please.   



By:  Rylan Vogelzang

When I’m in a loud room, the hearing part of my brain is SO big that I hear ALL the noise, like every sound, like a huge scream.  The only thing I can’t hear is the footprints of a bug.  But if I could, it would sound like a giant stomping on a rug.  The cafeteria at school and the beginning of summer camps are SO loud that it pierces my ear drums like a barking dog.  Loud places make my body feel like there’s a vibrating machine or an earthquake in me.  I want to GET AWAY from those places so my body can feel more calm.



By:  Rylan Vogelzang

If there’s a distraction, my eyes will find it.  My eyes always need exercise and I see EVERYTHING around me.  When I see something that interests me I can’t look away until something loud in my ear (like a mad dog) tells me to stop.  Like my mom saying, “Hey buddy!”  Then I scare out of my distraction.  When I find something to fix my eyes on I feel relaxed.  But when I’m not fixed on something my eyes are always scanning for something interesting.  It’s hard to have this magnet because I stare at so many things. The magnet gets me in trouble because I waste time.



By:  Rylan Vogelzang

So, this is the brain of sleepiness.  It’s where my brain gets tired of having to think so much.  My brain gets tired and dizzy, but I don’t actually fall asleep because it’s SO hard for me to actually fall asleep.  My brain only gets sleepy when I have to think about things I’m NOT interested in.  This happens a lot at school and when I have to learn things.  I actually do hear the words and save them to my junk file, but my body will yawn and I want to rest my head on my desk because the teacher would notice if I put my head on the floor.  I just need to make my body comfortable and that’s hard to do at school.  I get headaches if I have to think too hard because I have so many ideas I need to push aside.


By:  Rylan Vogelzang

This is what I feel like when I need to squeeze something, for example, my dog’s head or other peoples’ heads.  Don’t get scared, I’m learning how to control my squeezing.  The robot squeezing the sponge represents my hands because I don’t draw hands well.  I really like robots.  When that happens my hands feel like when you close a close pin and it has to shut.  The clothespin can’t control when to shut and open, and so it’s like a robot or God controlling my hands to squeeze.  

Like a Sneeze

By:  Rylan Vogelzang

My tics are kind of like a sneeze, a cough, or a hiccup.  You can’t control those things and I can’t control my tics.  I don’t mean to do my tics, but my body feels uncomfortable inside in the spot where I have to do the tic.  The tic makes me feel comfortable again.  Sometimes I have more than one tic at a time.  That just feels even more uncomfortable.  They don’t hurt my brain.  


By:  Rylan Vogelzang

When a bunch of ideas come to my head, I just really have to let them twirl in my head and think about them.  I probably get in trouble because I’m thinking about my ideas while other people are doing math or talking to me.  It feels like I’m mixed up like a tornado.  It’s a bad feeling when my head is so full of ideas taking up room in my brain, but it also feels good because there are so many interesting ideas.  I forget my ideas because there’s so many and that’s why I want to tell people right when I think them.  I lose a lot of my ideas.  The tornado sucks them up.  I say, “Can I please change the subject,” a lot when I have an idea or question that needs to get out.  I confuse people a lot because my words are “off topic.”  


By:  Reagan Vogelzang

The heart that you see by the yellow spot is a friendship bracelet.  The yellow spot is the sun.  The sun makes me feel happy.  The colors on the left are the sunset.  The two orange guys in the water are friends playing.  I like how my friends play with me and how we don’t fight.  


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