Autistic student aspires to design video games but needs help

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Andres Lorenzo, 22, and his mother, Sady Lorenzo, 50, in their home in Hialeah.

FIU

Andres Lorenzo is not just an ordinary 22-year-old college student. He’s an artist-in-the-making.

He excels in his art courses at Miami Dade College and spends his free time expanding his portfolio. His goal is to become a video-game designer and create smiles around the world.

He draws every day.

Art is his escape from life’s stresses and worries. If he doesn’t draw every day, anxiety can overcome him.

Andres is autistic. He lives in Hialeah with his parents and two brothers, Xander, 16, who is also autistic, and Eros, 19, a student at Florida International University.

Andres started to draw simple pieces when he was age 7. He said creating art is a way of expressing himself and unwinding.

“I’m already having the best time of my life doing this,” he said. “I feel like a drug addict when it comes to drawing art because I love to constantly practice and learn more.”

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Andres Lorenzo, 22, and his mother, Sady Lorenzo, 50, in their home in Hialeah. Andres is autistic and struggles with breaks in his routine. A generator would help keep his circumstances on track when there is a power outage. Samantha Morell FIU

Andres is working on an associate’s degree in animation and game art. After he graduates in 2023, he wants to earn a bachelor’s degree in the field.

Andres loves college because he gets to meet new people.

“My favorite class has been digital character design simply because the professor was a gamer just like me, so she was very relatable,” he said.

Like many people with autism, he does better with a routine. But when that routine breaks, there can be trouble. His biggest obstacle is the hurricanes or other bad weather that can cause power outages. When there is no light or air conditioning, their small home in Hialeah can become chaotic. Andres loses control of his emotions and might start cursing. Xander might become manic. If the family can’t de-escalate the situation, the brothers might become physically aggressive.

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Andres Lorenzo, 22, flips through his illustrations with his mother, Sady Lorenzo, in their kitchen. Andres says creating art is a way of expressing himself and unwinding. Samantha Morell FIU

Andres’ mother, Sady Lorenzo, 50, said his routine can’t keep changing whenever there is bad weather.

“His father and I are getting old, and we can’t control his aggressive impulses anymore,” she said. “Honestly, we are just exhausted.”

Andres’ dedication and passion for art inspired Monica Gomez, a social worker at Unlike Support Services — a social services agency that works with mentally and physically disabled individuals — to nominate him for Wish Book. She said the family didn’t ask for anything, but would like a generator. It would let Andres continue creating art through any weather condition and help keep both him and his brother stable. The mental health of everyone in the house is jeopardized when there is no power.

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Andres Lorenzo, 22, left, stands with his brothers, Eros, 19, and Xander, 16, right, in their home in Hialeah. Andres and Xander are autistic. Samantha Morell FIU

Gomez started working with Andres in June 2020. After only two visits to the family’s home, she saw how supportive his family is. She was also impressed by the quality of Andres’ art. The meaning behind every piece demonstrates his thought process and kind heart, she said.

“When I saw him, I realized he is a hidden treasure because he has such an immense talent and it can be seen in every drawing,” she said. “The first thought that came to mind was, ‘Wow he is truly amazing.’”

Creating art is the foundation of Andres’ mental and emotional progress. With a generator, he can continue to create while staying stable.

“I use my emotions and make art out of it,” he said. “It’s pretty much like therapy to me.”

How to help: Wish Book is trying to help this family and hundreds of others in need this year. To donate, pay securely at MiamiHerald.com/wishbook.

How to help

To help this nominee and 150 other nominees who are in need this year:

▪ To donate, use the coupon found in the newspaper or pay securely online through www.MiamiHerald.com/wishbook

▪ For more information, call 305-376-2906 or [email protected]

▪ The most requested items are often laptops and tablets for school, furniture, and accessible vans

Read more at: www.miamiherald.com/wishbook

This story was originally published December 26, 2021 7:00 AM.


https://www.miamiherald.com/living/wish-book/article256568211.html

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