SEEDs for Autism and the People Who Inspire Us

As the Newsletter editor and instructor at SEEDs for Autism, I always encourage my students to share their stories. Expressing themselves through writing has been an empowering experience for these talented adults on the autism spectrum. It helps them understand that their thoughts and opinions matter, they have insights and wisdom worth sharing and that their experiences can help inspire others.


Success isn’t just about what you accomplish in your life, it’s about what you inspire others to do.

Inspirational people help us believe in ourselves and motivate us to strive for excellence. These rare individuals make us want to reach further, do great things and take ACTION! Although there are many inspiring personalities in movies and television, it is the ones we encounter in our own lives that make the greatest impact. We asked SEEDs participants to tell us about the inspirational people in their lives. 

My mom, as cliche as it is, is the person who most inspires me. She is the sweetest, coolest and most creative person in my life. She has the ability to listen despite how hard she works. I feel alone when I’m away from her and she is always there for me when I have to do things that are hard. She prays for me and she listens to my problems. I am happy when she has my back, in the toughest of times. Sometimes, when she is away, I have to learn how to be a grown man. It is hard. She taught me a lesson early on that I’m a special important person and I’m there to help people so that’s why I have to be a grown up even when she is far away. A lot of times she will tell me things that are hard to hear but she only says it out of love. My mom has the best way of expressing her love. She will have little sayings like, “Hike up your britches”, “I have a hug in my arms”, or “I am in awe of you, Jose” that’s a special way she lets me know I’m her good son, whom she loves.

I look at the strange days that have passed me sometime ago. There were always these moments when I couldn’t lift my head up but mom would not let me give up!  And the hard days were there because I was supposed to power through them. At the end of the day, I remember having a good feeling because my mom and I got through our day together. My Mom inspires my creativity, positivity and hard work. My family is important to me and my mother really inspires me because she is the person I most admire.

My dad inspires me because he is in a wheelchair but he doesn’t let that make him not go to work. He is probably the hardest worker I know. He often gets no sleep but goes to work any way. And will often help me in any way he can even when he is tired.

I am writing about someone who inspired me in my life. That person is Officer Franklin Marino. Officer Marino was an adult member of Boy Scout Troop 30. When I was younger and got into trouble with my peers in Troop 30, Officer Marino was there to pull me aside and talk. I didn’t always appreciate it at the time but as I got older I started to understand his methods. Some of the things he instilled in me were to respect all my peers, parents, elders, and people of authority. Other things he taught me were skills like coping skills and when to remove myself from troubling situations and people with a toxic attitude. He also wanted me to come to him if I needed help. Finally the most important thing he told me was that I can only control my actions. Having a guy like Officer Marino in my life was crucial in my development as a person.

Golf Pencils and the Art of Restaurant Dining

I usually don’t like going out to eat.

But, much to my delight..

a waiter handed me a piece of paper

and a little golf pencil.

I’d rather draw

than order antipasti.




Camping, Cats and the Art of Mondays

Summer is over..

and we’re back as volunteer art teachers

for a group of inner city kids.

We spent the evening as we usually do

sitting at a table

elbow to elbow

drawing pictures together.

Can’t think of a better way to spend a Monday night..

This cat looks a lot like my grandma. I must have been thinking about her while I was drawing.


“Molly Pitcher” by my husband, Richard.


Cats were a recurring theme… This one has a butterfly on her nose.


Portrait of the artist on the balcony of her apartment.


Singing in the tent, camping under the night sky.



SEEDs for Autism and a Place to Grow

I work with young adults on the autism spectrum.

In other words, my days are spent with some of the most

fascinating, honest and creative individuals

I have ever known.

I am there to lift them up..

and encourage them to grow.

I am also their writing instructor.

In addition to a monthly newsletter,

my students create the content for their own blog

where they can share all their unique interests

and experiences with the world.

I am glad to be a part of it.

SEEDs for Autism is a vocational training program that teaches young adults on the autism spectrum a multitude of job skills focused on the arts. For more information about this life-changing program,  please visit SEEDs for Autism.

To Russia, With Love

"Forever" by Michele Bledsoe

“Forever” by Michele Bledsoe

My art has never been so far from home before..

It’s a small painting,

but this little snail

has managed to travel a great distance.

My husband and I are honored to have our work on display in Moscow, Russia..

EXHIBITIONS – Russian Stuckism: Registered in Moscow and Moscow Region

We do not speak Russian,

but our paintings do..

Art is a universal language.



Scene from inside the gallery at the Russian Stuckism: Registered in Moscow and Moscow Region Exhibition.

Another scene from inside the gallery: "Forever" by Michele Bledsoe, and "Diver" by Richard Bledsoe

Another scene from inside the gallery: “Forever” by Michele Bledsoe, and “Diver” by Richard Bledsoe




Objects, Animals and the Art of Taking Requests


Sharing the experience of art with a group of inner city kids

is how my husband and I spend our Monday evenings.

We sit elbow to elbow with those beautiful young artists

talking and drawing together.


Often, the kids will make requests..

asking us to draw a particular

animal or object..

We are always happy to comply.

So we draw spaceships and unicorns

insects and dinosaurs

Tinkerbell and octopi.

It’s good practice for us as artists..

a test of speed and skill.


I am always deeply touched when

of all the wondrous things in their vast and limitless imaginations,

the kids choose to draw us..

sometimes, with an octopus.




Small Moments and the Art of Tremendous Consequences

"Metamorphosis" by Michele Bledsoe

“Metamorphosis” by Michele Bledsoe

I remember making a book when I was little.

I vaguely recall the story had something to do with a family of animals living near a beach.

I made drawings of weird dog-like creatures on pieces of paper that I folded to look like pages.

When I showed it to my grandfather

He knelt down so we were face-to-face

And looking directly into my eyes

He said to me:

“Michele, you have a gift from God.”


Believe me, the drawing wasn’t THAT good…

Sure, I drew recognizable objects

But that’s a far cry from being like some child prodigy drawing like Michelangelo at the age of 4.


Did he see something I didn’t?

Was it a glimpse of the artist I would become..

or was it something else?


My husband I volunteer to teach art

To a group of inner city kids in downtown Phoenix.

A couple of days ago

Something beautiful happened.


Surrounded by kids,

talking and drawing together

at a crowded table..

I saw a small boy.

so small, and quiet

he practically disappeared.

His tiny head was bent down

intensely focused

on the drawing in front of him.


I glanced at what he was working on

and I felt time stop.

All the chaos in the room

faded into the background.

There was something different about this child.

Something rare and beautiful.

I saw it.

Felt it.

And in that

seemingly small and insignificant moment..

I understood that there was something tremendous

in consequence

that brought me here.


“That is a great brontosaurus, “I told him

“and what a terrific volcano!”

The boy looked up..

clearly surprised that I noticed him..

that I was talking to him.

“You draw really well,” I continued

“I can see your wonderful imagination

in your drawings.”

With a tiny smile, and light in his eyes

The boy whispered. “Thank you.”

I asked him his name..

“Jesus.” He replied.

I leaned in real close so we were face to face..

And looking directly into his eyes, I said,

“Jesus, you have a gift from God.”

Inglorious Arizona and the Art of Pushing Your Limits

"The Jail Tree" by Michele Bledsoe

“The Jail Tree” by Michele Bledsoe

My husband Richard and I were honored to be included among the artists selected to create work for INGLORIOUS ARIZONA. In this exciting project, stories about the grittier side of Arizona’s past were assigned to a selection of local artists. Once received, the artists would have about a month to create art inspired by their particular story.

One month may seem like a lot of time..

but not for me.

I am a slow, meticulous painter..

blissfully lingering over my work with tiny brushes.

So, when I submitted my work for consideration

I knew that if I were selected

I would pretty much have to paint non-stop for 30 days.

Did I hesitate?


And during the magnificent painting frenzy that followed

I pushed the limits of my endurance

to the breaking point…

only to discover

that I did not break.

Such is life.






Pencils, Paper and the Power of Art

One of the kids took this picture... I need to keep my feet of the table when I draw.

One of the kids took this picture… I need to keep my feet off the table when I draw.

As a volunteer art teacher
I am back to spending Monday evenings
sharing the experience of art
with a group of inner-city kids.

My art class is probably not what you’d expect to see..
Nothing spectacular, really.

Basically, we just show up
grab a bunch of paper and pencils
fling the door open wide
sit down
and start drawing.

the kids trickle in..
and one by one
they sit down and join us.

Soon, we are elbow to elbow
drawing together.
We talk, we laugh,
we share experiences..

No paints or pastels
No paintbrushes or easels
No scissors, glitter and glue
No elaborate materials or expensive supplies.
No preconceived projects
or instructions to follow..
yet somehow
a lesson unfolds.

So, what is this amazing thing
that draws all those kids into our room
And holds their attention…?

Such is the power of art.

michele quote

Painting and the Art of the Common Cold


Hanging “The Edge of Reason” by Michele Bledsoe for SPINELESS: The Invertebrate Art Show

I have had a cold for the past couple of days.
The first time I’ve been sick in years.
There is a roll of toilet paper
next to my easel
so I can blow my nose
in between brush strokes.

The desire to paint is irresistible..
and art is good medicine.