Despite what some would call obstacles, a nonverbal San Diego man discovered he had the ability to paint three years ago, and now he's set to curate his first art exhibit later this month.
Jeremy Sicile-Kira, 27, has autism and synesthesia, a neurological condition that gives him the ability to see letters, words and emotions in color. He told ABC News via email that he was inspired to start painting after he had a dream.
"I saw the paintings in my dream," Sicile-Kira said. "For many years I dreamt I was painting people's colors into portraits. Then one night I dreamt I had a great art show of my paintings. ... I was really excited and asked my mom how to truly have an art show."
After his mother told him he'd have to start painting "in real life," Sicile-Kira picked up his paintbrush and began his journey.
"I was surprised to see I could," he said of painting.
Sicile-Kira, who communicates by typing on a keyboard, said painting has given him an entirely new way to communicate with the world.
"As a nonverbal person with autism, it is hard to ... feel that there is something I can contribute to society," he said. "My gift of synesthesia and painting is one way I frankly can give people pleasure."
His mother, Chantal, told ABC News that discovering her son's ability to paint has helped him in several ways.
"A lot of people with disabilities are always looking at their disability and not their abilities," she said. "Jeremy is one of the people that's been told he should be institutionalized and he'll never amount to anything. [Painting] can be a way for him to earn money eventually and that's a thing that's important to tell people because people like Jeremy need support ... but they can also be people who give back to the community."
"Imagine if he never learned how to type, or imagine if he never told me [he wanted to paint]," she added emotionally.
Chantal, who has authored many books on autism, continued, "This is the first time that someone asked me about Jeremy's art and not his autism, and he was judged on his art and not his autism ... That was a defining moment for me. If he has a talent, he can be accepted."
Jeremy Sicile-Kira's first solo art exhibit, titled "Inner Dimensions," opens on April 11 at Space4Art in downtown San Diego.
He told ABC News he's "looking forward" to his first exhibit, adding, "Truly, there is a gift inside everyone waiting to be recognized."