The artist within eight-year-old Nicholas was unleashed one day after a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium. He asked his mother Susie Scrivano for his sketchpad and felt pens, and began to draw. “His drawings, which depicted his view and imagination of the underwater world of wonder, were astonishing,” says Susie.

The Aquarium is a source of artistic inspiration for Nicholas, but it’s significant for another reason as well, Susie says. “Learning that Nicholas has Autism Spectrum Disorder was difficult but it was also the first step on our journey towards helping him.” She goes on to say the Aquarium has served as a therapeutic place for him; it helps sooth his anxieties, lessen his sensory sensitivities and increases his desire and ability to connect socially with others.

Susie says her son's drawings have evolved into social stories representing friendship, acceptance, and community

Susie says her son’s drawings have evolved into social stories representing friendship, acceptance, and community.

The Scrivano family is heading into their fifth year as Aquarium members. They’ve come here almost every weekend for the past several years, and Nicholas enjoyed attending AquaCamps last summer. Susie says she immediately noticed the positive influence visiting the Aquarium has had on Nicholas. “I soon recognized that Nicholas’ keen interest and love for marine life has brought him to a more effective state.”

Nicholas dissects a squid during AquaCamps.

While we recognize Nicholas as an artist in his own right, we thought it would be fun to enhance his drawings with motion graphics. David de Haas, our in-house motion graphics artist, brought Nicholas’ sketchpad to life through the same technique he used during our Sea Monsters Revealed feature exhibit in 2015. “I love working with kids’ art and I believe every child is born with an ability to communicate visually,” he explains. “I try to encourage all children, including my own, to continue to make art throughout their lives.”

This echoes Susie’s sentiments. “We are all very proud of him. Nicholas is really looking forward to his Tofino trip with his dad in July at which time he will explore and learn more about our west coast waters. This is the beginning of his great potential and future possibilities.”







Check out Nicholas’ art in motion here.

Written by Karen Glanzberg, content writer/producer at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.

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