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Artist Kengo Nawashiro, 26, loves drawing buildings and towers. His beautifully colored paintings of the Tokyo Skytree are printed on postcards and sold at art events. Nawashiro credits his success to renowned art educator Chieko Awata, who is a specialist in nurturing the talents of autistic children and adults. Nawashiro was diagnosed with autism at age 4, and his parents immediately began looking for creative outlets for him. He played the piano and tried various sports, but it was drawing that proved to be Kengo’s favorite activity and definite forte. He also has a cleaning job at a factory cafeteria.

Being independent feels nice because I’m free, and my parents and teachers are happy too. I was 24 when I moved out from my parents’ house into a group home. There are four other boys there and a care manager, but I don’t see them often as I’m always out and about.

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