Columbia, SC (WLTX)- Natalie Palumbo has been drawing since she was five years old. Her pictures have always been much more than just art for the fridge, it is the way she speaks to her brother without actually using words.
"When they see my brother they can't comprehend that is autism," says the 18-year-old Lexington High School Senior.
Her older brother, Anthony Palumbo, has "low verbal" autism. He was officially diagnosed at age five. His ability to formulate words has increased minimally, but he isn't able to carry on a conversation.
"He can only speak in short phrases of what he wants, he can only echo tv dialogue," says Natalie.
Natalie's passion for art became a way to bond with her brother and also jump start her career as an artist. Natalie focused her senior project on "Autism in Society: Media Portrayal versus Reality".
"A lot of times they will portray autism as a novelty of childhood as opposed to a lifelong disability."
Natalie is also the youngest contributor to the website 'Age of Autism', a daily web newspaper of the autism epidemic. You can read more here: http://www.ageofautism.com/natalie-palumbo/