Senior Project Brings Asberger’s Into Focus

Danielle Leon Guerrero’s senior project at Waipahu High School got her out of her comfort zone.

It allowed her to tap into her inner humanitarian, spreading awareness about Asperger’s syndrome, a common yet still widely unfamiliar neurological disorder that is similar to autism.

Last month Guerrero organized a 17-piece art exhibit at Kahala Mall with the central theme of each piece highlighting children and teenagers with Asperger’s syndrome, their hobbies and activities. The artwork was collaboratively created by Waipahu High students, as well as by younger students who have the disorder.

Danielle Leon Guerrero

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Waipahu High School senior Danielle Leon Guerrero (above) hosted an art exhibit, ‘Beneath The Surface,’ at Kahala Mall last month as a part of her senior project. The exhibit displayed art created by children and teens with Asperger’s syndrome with the goal of spreading awareness about the disorder. Photo by Gloria Jakahi.

“Looking back at the experiences of the exhibit, I think it really did something to stir the hearts of the public,” Guerrero said. “I was so amazed at the impact this exhibit made on families who knew about Asperger’s, as well as people who just learned about it.”

She was drawn to the subject after hearing stories from her art teacher, who has twin sons with the condition.

With a compassionate heart and a creative mind, Guerrero turned the art exhibit into an interactive event allowing spectators and passersby to journal their opinions about pieces that impressed or inspired them.

“One comment that touched me was one full page by a girl who said how beautiful the artwork was,” she said. “She wrote down a Bible scripture, Jeremiah 29:11.

“I love this scripture because I believe this project was God’s plan for me – to speak up about something that the world needs to know more about,” Guerrero added.

Moving forward she said she would like to continue to be involved in the lives of those who live with the syndrome, and she admires their maturity.

“A person with Asperger’s syndrome desires to be part of something.

“They want what we all want … to be accepted.”