Artist Diana Trevino-Wilson uses her creativity to create a special character named Fabil that reaches through the wall of autism to teach basic skills.
LatinaLista — “If Walt Disney could start his empire with a cartoon mouse, anything is possible,” says Diana Trevino-Wilson, artist and entrepreneur.
Artistic since the age of five, Diana has always had the gift of creating one-of-a-kind designs. Originally using her creativity to create items like beaded cloth headbands, decorative dÃ©cor objects, paintings and even writing poetry, Diana found a greater calling for her artistic talent when her daughter was diagnosed with autism.
“My daughter “cooed” and looked me straight in the eyes when she was just months old,” Diana remembered. “She was very normal until around the age of 2, then it seemed she could not hear, because she would not respond to my voice, her name, or situations going on around her. She was tested and followed by her doctor, and finally diagnosed around the age of 5.”
In 2005, Diana began home schooling her daughter because the local elementary school didn’t have an adequate classroom to meet her daughter’s specific needs.
Equipped only with a GED, Diana read as much as possible about the affliction and connected with other parents of children with autism. She started gathering material and curriculum with which to teach her daughter.
“I could not find many of the items that I needed to help her learn, starting with the most basic of information. I remembered a cartoon character that I had created in 1991,” Diana said. “I began to draw posters for her room, using this cartoon character, to teach her: “today, tomorrow and yesterday” as well as “morning, noon and night” concepts. I started making coloring pages and flash cards to use as well. Now I design part of her curriculum. Drawing is a part of me, but now I do it for a different reason.”
The cartoon character that Diana resurrected from her art pile that she thought could reach through to her daughter was a bird, but not just any bird. It was a bird with definite attitude and a very human personality. Such a unique bird needed a unique name.
“I drew this character according to what I saw in my mind, and the word “fable” came with it,” Diana recounted. “I knew that I didn’t want to name him Fable, because he wasn’t a story, but he did appear to have a distinct look. So I changed the letters around and came up with Fabil.”
Diana had never heard of the name Fabil and it wasn’t until she noticed that people from the Mideast were becoming fans of her Facebook page did she learn it was a Middle Eastern name.
Ever since resurrecting Fabil and putting him to work to help teach her daughter, Diana made it her mission to help other families and professionals who also work with autistic children. She gives away flash card sets to families, provides sample cards to special education teachers and makes available on her website free Fabil coloring pages. Diana says the response so far from other parents has been both appreciative and supportive.
Now, that Fabil is established, Diana is also getting back to her childhood love of creating original artwork. Yet, tempering her artistic streak with creating curriculum is a daily juggling act for Diana.
“I try and balance the two by staying faithful to the immediate need within my family and other families out there living with learning disabilities. For people like my daughter and I who learn visually, I want to offer items to help them,” Diana said.
“I can get very carried away when working, so I have to stay aware of my daily responsibilities. I try to give some time to those passions within me that have nothing to do with academics, which would be those designs and ideas popping up and down within me like popcorn, just waiting to be brought to life.”
To give each side of her creativity their due justice, Diana created a web site, Diana Originals, featuring items she’s made, along with, Fabil learning materials. It’s a business that she knows she will never give up.
“I always knew that the work that brought me joy was creating. Now, years since the age of 5, here I am still doing what naturally flows out of me.”