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Wil C Kerner

 Wil C Kerner


Wil C. Kerner, The Cutout Kid! born 1995, diagnosed with classic autism at age two and with savant syndrome by Dr. Darold A. Treffert, the world’s foremost expert on savant syndrome, in May 2008.  Wil is an Artistic Savant profiled on the Savant Syndrome website  hosted by the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation and directed by Darold A. Treffert, MD, St. Agnes Hospital, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison.

“Savant Syndrome is a rare but remarkable condition in which persons with developmental disabilities have some spectacular talents that stand in stark, jarring contrast to overall limitations and occurs in 10% of those with autism.”  “I am very impressed with Wil's ability.  It is remarkable, and certainly different than many other artistic savants.”  Darold A Treffert, MD.

Early on, Wil lacked play skills and interest in toys.  Yet videos held his attention while video characters little by little became his friends.  By age five he showed interest in sea life and spiders he found in picture books.  He was almost 6 when he began speaking one to two word sentences, and was nine before he discovered the feel and colors of Play-Doh, began drawing facial expressions and cutting construction paper.  (Oddly, Wil does not position his fingers and thumb in the holes of his scissors but instead wraps his hand around them mysteriously making them cut.)  And his cutout characters began appearing on chairs, tables, beds, counter tops, on carpet and bare floors throughout his and his grandparent’s home, all day long every day to this day.  Within months, he was labeling his feelings with the names of the Seven Dwarfs.  On his tenth birthday, he realized that presents had surprises inside.  At twelve, twenty of his art pieces were Giclee reproduced and presented to the public and are still selling at art fairs today; Harbor View Medical Center’s Art Program hosted a reception for Wil and his art; The Seattle Times ran his story and photos of his art, that got picked up and printed by newspapers across the U.S.; Dr. Treffert invited Wil to be on the Savant Syndrome  website; NBC came calling, three times: Wil and his art now appear in three books, Islands of Genius Darold A Treffert,  Drawing Autism  Jill Mullin, Artism: The Art of Autism Debra Hosseini; Google Wil Kerner and pages of information surface.  Now, at 15 he has decided to print his name Will instead of Wil.  He is not able to verbalize this but instead just keeps printing Will when he signs his art.  Ask him what his name is and he says, “Wil Clark Kerner, The Cutout Kid!”  

An only child, Wil’s learning is paced by his autism.  He has just reentered public school as a tenth grade student after five years of homeschooling.  For the most part, he is a compassionate, loveable, huggable happy guy who loves dining at his favorite restaurants and shopping for new packs of colored paper.  Ask him what color of paper he wants to buy and he’ll call out the names of characters he wants to make.  Then ask him what characters he wants to make and he calls out colors representing each one.  Since scissors became Wil’s constant companion and cutting colored paper his main self-therapy, he has become calmer and more social.

No doubt, he is different like individuals are.  And he has tremendous difficulties to work through to embrace and find his way in society.   But he also has a very determined sparkle about him, you know, that inner energy that generates flickers of hope and possibility that can lift a person up and out of sadness or desperation, in Wil’s case it allows him to look through and outside himself.  Certainly Wil was mentally uplifted that first day he used scissors and cut into paper.  He remains passionately obsessive about cutting paper.  It’s both his need and what he enjoys.  Moreover, Wil’s art is his life trade, he will get better at it with age, the experts claim.

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