Love in the Moment
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The inspiring story of how a courageous mother's dedication and unconditional love for her son, an artist on the autism spectrum, helped him become an internationally renowned artist and double-medal swimming champion at the Special Olympics.
Leland Lee is an internationally renowned artist who has held exhibitions in more than a dozen countries in Europe, Asia and North America, including Russia and the Vatican. Diagnosed with severe autism at 18 months, he struggled with verbal communication. Hence, painting became an important channel for expression and communication with the outside world. Leland’s parents focused their parenting efforts on Leland’s abilities instead of disabilities. Leland is like a “friendship ambassador” for autism, attending conferences around the world to share his life experience, show the progress he has made and exhibit his art. He brings together government, medical science and educators to work in a common goal: for the world to be a friendlier place to children on the spectrum of autism and to help provide more support for parents. Karen’s dedication and unconditional love, along with Leland’s love for life and zest for learning, plus mother and son’s unwavering desire to improve, have transformed Leland into a young man who speaks two languages, plays guitar and swims competitively, winning the Gold and Silver medals in the 2006 Special Olympics. Leland is currently under training in the Synchronized Swimming Association of Taiwan program run by Coach Julia Startch.
This memoir is the humorous and dramatic story of a dynamic duo: a courageous and dedicated mother; her remarkable son, an artist on the autism spectrum; and their heart-wrenching journey to help Leland get rid of the “severe” label in the hopes of moving forward, little by little, to “normalcy.” "Love in the Moment" is the inspiring story about what it means to live a fulfilling life of creativity and love — from moment to moment.
Illustrated with Leland's full-color paintings.
Karen Chien was born in Taiwan and grew up in her father's famous Café Astoria. Karen has two children, Jason and Leland. She lived in Los Angeles for 29 years and returned to Taipei to run the family business. She tirelessly advocates for autism, raising awareness for parents and the public to focus on children's abilities instead of disabilities. Karen coordinates Leland's art exhibits and other appearances around the world. She especially enjoys going to Moscow with Leland and her mother, where Karen is always looking for new Russian recipes to offer at the café.
Leland Lee has had wide recognition, such as receiving the 10 Outstanding Young Persons Award from the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Taiwan. He has participated in international councils, conferences and symposiums, and been featured in a documentary film.
"There is no tomorrow" is Leland's favorite line. He captures moments in life through his paintbrushes. Leland's art gallery is available at his website: www.lelandlee.com.
Leland x Astoria, a smartphone application using Augmented Reality (AR) technology, is available for free at the Apple Store and Google Play. When using the app's Scan Art feature, a set of special AR artworks appear with animation.
Karen and Leland currently reside in Taipei, where he works at the legendary Café Astoria, a bakery and restaurant serving Russian coffees, Russian-based pastries, western-style cakes, wines and cuisine. The recipes for Russian soft candy and mazurka are based on the original recipes used for the Russian royal court. Those treats are Astoria's signature pastries, loved by adults and children alike: www.facebook.com/astoria1949.
▍Introduction: A perfect life—interrupted
▍Part 1: My son has autism?
Sun and sunflowers
My father and life in Café Astoria
What I know about autism
But how does it happen?
Every “Rain Man” is unique
▍Part 2: I wish the drawing would stop
Learn to brush teeth with Polaroid
Race against time
Charging ahead but going nowhere
Barbara, beloved teacher
Hidden talents unleashed
An artistic genius
A gem was under my nose
What Temple Grandin has taught us
▍Part 3: Paintings for the world to see
He was born an artist
Conversations through paintings
All the flowers smiled
The feet that have walked a long way
The Scream, the painting that blows everyoneʼs mind
His art, his universe
The first art exhibition
Moose, long time no see!
Lelandʼs art tells his life story
One-of-a-kind Dolphin and Butterfly
Whose paintings do you like the best?
▍Part 4: Lessons Leland taught me
Growing up together
Everyone thought I was insane
There is no tomorrow
The power of learning
Itʼs important to have good health
Live in the moment
When they grow up
A motherʼs promise
Every year on May 29th