Tristan Bramblett uses artistic talent to help autistic children
By Dwight Sparks -
At age five, Tristan Bramblett of Clemmons is the artistic genius behind a company’s designer cards, gift bags, wrapping paper and clothing.
He loves to go to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro. He draws the animals. Those drawings — of elephants, ostriches, lions, giraffes and flamingos — have been turned into gift items sold by Blue Elephant Creations Inc.
Tristan is autistic.
His art is being used to help pay for his intensive therapy, costing about $65,000 a year.
One of his early drawings was a blue elephant, and that has become the cornerstone of art collection.
With the help of a marketing-savvy aunt in Georgia, Tristan’s drawings have been splashed on all kinds of things now being offered for sale.
Tristan’s mother, Cyndi, said the boy’s progress has been phenomenal. When he was two, Tristan’s speech hadn’t developed, and he banged his head and screamed out of control.
He now gets therapy 52 hours a week. It has been expensive but very effective.
“We’re so excited with his progress,” his mother said. “This is a different child, a completely different child. He functions well in his preschool and has a bright future.”
Other parents, learning of the autism, have told Mrs. Bramblett that Tristan seems normal.
“That is be best compliment I could receive,” she said.
They stumbled on the idea of selling his art.
“The North Carolina Zoo has been his inspiration,” she said. “We probably go once a week. He draws the animal. For a five-year-old, he really has some neat art. He sits and draws all day, and every time we go to the zoo, he sees a new animal.”
Tristan’s aunt, Amy Gray, a professional graphics designer in Georgia, has taken the art and turned it into merchandise. But the family involvement didn’t stop there. Grandmother Ellen McIlwain, also of Georgia and a former bank officer, joined the effort to help Tristan through his art.
The items can be purchased through www.blueelephantcreations.com.
The website also reveals Cyndi Bramblett’s heartbreak when she learned of the autism:
“All of the dreams that we had for our little boy just evaporated. There would be no play dates with friends, little league ball, or carefree days playing at the park. These hopes were gone and replaced with the fears of would he ever communicate or function independently.”
Family gatherings and social events became impossible. Tristan often had severe emotional meltdowns.
Ray and Cyndi Bramblett moved Tristan and daughter Tiffany, seven, here after learning about Applied Behavioral Analysis, a one-on-one therapy that has scored significant gains for autistic children. The move meant moving far away from family and friends, but it has produced results.
But distance didn’t deter Tristan’s extended family from helping in another way.
A portion of the proceeds of the Blue Elephant sales goes to the International Child Development Resource Center, which helps with education about autism and its treatment.
Mrs. Bramblett said she hopes her family’s experience can help guide other parents with an autistic child.