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Joined: 25 Aug 2013
Age: 64
Gender: Male
Posts: 26,514
Location: Long Island, New York

05 Sep 2021, 8:05 am

The Durango Herald

Local artist, nonprofit founder and businessman John Truitt is using art to raise awareness about Asperger's syndrome.

Truitt, a native Texan who moved to Durango in 2016, was diagnosed with Asperger’s and dyslexia at age 45. The diagnosis inspired several changes in his life, including painting abstract art and establishing the On the Spectrum Foundation in 2019, which seeks to empower adults on the spectrum and advocate for people diagnosed as adults.

Before establishing the foundation, Truitt worked in the medical, dental and biotech fields for more than 25 years. He also served as a combat medic in the 25th Infantry Division. In his spare time, he works with disabled veterans through art therapy and coaches parents of children who are on the spectrum and adults diagnosed with Asperger’s.

Soon after Truitt was diagnosed in 2017, he was searching for a relaxing outlet and found himself at the doors of an art store. Now, he’s using his own abstract art pieces to market the foundation through a new venture, “Art on the Spectrum.” Money raised through selling his art is funneled to his On the Spectrum Foundation.

Truitt describes his painting as “surfing on the spectrum.” He puts on his favorite music and lets his Asperger’s stimming take over.

Truitt has several goals for the foundation, including creating a feature film about Asperger’s and creating a center to help those on the spectrum navigate the diagnosis. At the center, Truitt plans to teach people how to practice mindfulness, educate participants about proper nutrition and help people find a job that aligns with their interests and strengths.

He also plans to reach out to schools and other local entities in Durango to spread the word. Once resources and programming are established locally, Truitt hopes to replicate the services throughout Colorado and eventually across the United States.

Overall, Truitt’s main goal is to raise awareness and thwart negative misconceptions.

“Asperger’s is not, by any means, a mental impairment,” Truitt said.

His personal diagnosis was a surprise at first, Truitt said, but because of his own misconception of being on the spectrum. In hindsight, he said he would often “mask” his behavior in social situations, which is when spectrum behaviors are hidden to fit into a social situation. For example, a person on the spectrum may suppress stimming when meeting someone new at a bar.

Professionally Identified and joined WP August 26, 2013
DSM 5: Autism Spectrum Disorder, DSM IV: Aspergers Moderate Severity.

“My autism is not a superpower. It also isn’t some kind of god-forsaken, endless fountain of suffering inflicted on my family. It’s just part of who I am as a person”. - Sara Luterman