What is it like to have autism? Polyvios Christoforos would tell you it means being a little different from everyone else. He has firsthand knowledge, because he is on the spectrum himself.
He’ll tell you though, that being different is good. In fact, it’s helped him pave the way as a role model for the developmental disabilities community and beyond.
Polyvios (Paul for short) was diagnosed with PDD, pervasive developmental disorder, when he was just 3-years-old. His journey began with a lack of communication. He wasn’t hitting milestones and saying words by the time he should have. He also struggled with behavioral issues like banging his head, hitting and biting, and a low tolerance for loud noises and confrontations. But he never let his challenges get in the way of his love for art.
At age 27, Polyvios has a long list of accomplishments. He’s an acclaimed artist who won the New England Congressional Art Competition back in 2009. His painting “Dusk at the Acropolis” was hung in the House of Congress in Washington D.C. for an entire year! His artwork is also displayed in local art galleries and health facilities across Massachusetts, like Boston Children’s Hospital. Polyvios is on a mission to spread autism awareness, and has no fear when it comes to public speaking. He even spoke before a large crowd for the Boston chapter of Autism Speaks.
His latest accomplishment is becoming a published author. He wrote and illustrated his children’s book ‘Sammy Smart Guy.’ The story is about how a young boy with autism became a successful artist despite his struggles with behavioral issues. The story is based on a fictional character, but it’s an autobiographical account of Paul’s life experiences. It teaches children a valuable lesson: to follow your heart no matter what challenges stand in your way.
Paul is on a book tour, reading Sammy Smart Guy to students at schools throughout the north shore of Massachusetts and answering questions they have about his story and autism. His story even grabbed the attention of the Salem News and landed him on the cover! He has an upcoming book signing at Barnes & Noble (May 11).
Autism is part of who Paul is, but it does not define who he is. He’s a talented artist, a son, a brother, and a shining example of what can be accomplished when you don’t focus on the prefix dis and focus on the ability.