Legally blind Wichitan with autism overcomes obstacles to become children’s book illustrator

Sebastian Franco’s artistic talent is now on display for the public – he just illustrated his first children’s book. (Source: KWCH)
Published: Apr. 10, 2023 at 8:39 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - With April being World Autism Month, efforts continue to better understand and educate the public about the diagnosis that has continued to increase. The CDC reports about one in 36 children are diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Shining a light on the diagnosis and how many with autism are able to flourish, 12 News sat down with a Wichita artist who, in addition to being diagnosed with autism as a toddler, is legally blind. Despite the obstacles, Sebastian Franco’s talent and creativity are on display in works of children’s literature.

“I took some at classes and my art teachers loved my drawings,” Franco said of how his hobby grew into something bigger.

Franco’s mother, Jase Cameron, said her son’s teachers didn’t just appreciate that Franco could draw well.

“They were saying his conception of art was something they’ve never seen before in an autistic person,” she said. “They really encouraged him to continue.”

Opportunity hit last year when a children’s author asked him to do the illustrations for his new book, “The Life and Adventures of MerLe the Tortoise.”

Franco couldn’t pass it up. Cameron, also an author, said she’s amazed and happy that her son’s challenges don’t slow him down.

“He was able to look past some of what other people may feel as a hindrance or obstacles,” she said.

Franco’s efforts also serve as motivation moving forward. The hope is that proceeds from book sales can go toward a trip for Franco and Cameron to go to Alaska to see the Northern Lights. It’s a goal they hope to accomplish before Franco loses his sight completely.

Franco said he looks forward to continuing to share his gift for as long as he can.

“I feel excited and accomplished,” he said.