As the autism community gets more recognition in the world, so do the individuals in the community. An example of this would be of a Washington Post article highlighting the accomplishments of a 15-year-old boy with autism, Himal Bikmal, who inspired the creation of a business, Zenaviv, which markets the artwork of youths with disabilities.
Himal first began his craft about six years ago when his mother, Sandhya Bikmal, was painting and Himal took the brush from her to dab paint onto the canvas on his own. Instead of punishing his actions, his parents encouraged him to continue painting.
Since Himal was diagnosed with profound autism at the age of 2, his parents had been looking to discover what his strengths might be so they could nurture those skills and continue to do related things in life. Surprising his parents, Himal showed that he could paint despite not being able to “hold a fork properly,” as said by his father, Harish Bikmal.
After some training from his parents, Himal’s creativity burst forth in his artwork, painting colorful landscapes, scenes from nature, and animals. Although some of his paintings were copies of other pieces of art, others were straight out of his imagination. Hundreds of paintings later, the Bikmal family decided to sell his art and other art donations in a small fundraiser to raise money that would contribute to Himal’s treatment costs.
Realizing how much people loved and were willing to buy Himal’s artwork and other artwork created by people with autism, the Bikmals launched a business, Zenaviv, last year to market the creations of youths with disabilities. The name combines “zen,” meaning enlightment, with “viva,” meaning new life or colorful, spelled backwards and was created with assistance by Himal’s older brother, Saket.
Harish said, “We realized that many of these kids have some talent, and many times it goes unrecognized. We though, ‘Why don’t we do something that not just helps Himal, but helps other parents identify [their children’s] talent and use it for their future?”
This new business sells art featuring Himal and several other artists with autism. Its main purpose, Harish said, is to help individuals with autism earn their own money while doing something they love. First inspiring his family, Himal and his story continue to impact the lives of families with autism, providing them with hope for the future.