VACAVILLE — For almost two decades, Simon Eisenberg has delighted in riding the horses at the Horseplay Therapeutic Riding Center.
Recently, he found a way to thank the center beyond words.
Eisenberg, who will turn 27 in October, has autism. Once a week he sits down with Steve Ceccato for some art instruction. Ceccato, a retired Vacaville Unified School District educator, lets Eisenberg choose the subject. Then, he starts drawing and encourages Eisenberg to follow his lead.
“I work it and he works beside me,” Ceccato said. “It’s paralell play. I get into what he’s doing and he gets into what I’m doing.”
The creations from those sessions are available, for a donation, at Vacaville Optometric Vision Center, Inc. That money is given to Horseplay.
Eisenberg also works at the vision center one day a week. He’s a longtime patient. Dr. Michael E. Carney recalled a non-verbal young man who came to his office.
“Each time he would come, we would add a few tests until he could respond to most of an adult exam,” Carney said. “It took about eight years to get there.”
As a thank-you gift, the Eisenbergs presented Carney with one of their son’s paintings. It went on display. Patients wanted to know where they could get the artwork.
Today, the vision center has a display window featuring Simon Eisenberg’s art. A supply is on hand at all times.
Paula Eisenberg, Simon’s mother, believes her son started drawing things he was obsessed with or that concerned him.
“(I think) it was a way of controlling images that could be frightening,” she said.
His father, Gary Eisenberg, said, “We’re not sure of his dream life because of his communication.”
Animals are Simon Eisenberg’s favorite subject. During his recent lesson with Ceccato, the two worked on a picture of love birds. Ceccato has worked with Simon Eisenberg for two years and has watched him progress, choosing more complicated animals to recreate.
“This could be difficult with the spacing,” Ceccato said when Eisenberg opted for the love birds.
They started with a blue pastel crayon for the wings. Ceccato drew a line. Eisenberg looked over and copied, albeit a bigger line. Ceccato expected that.
“I work in detail. He tends to work on the large picture,” Ceccato said.
Ceccato places an emphasis on demonstrating rather than verbal cues.
When both were done, Simon Eisenberg’s picture took up almost the whole piece of paper. Ceccato still had room for the second love bird.
“I like his bold colors and his interpretation,” Ceccato said of Simon Eisenberg’s art.
Gary Eisenberg estimated his son has donated about $1,000 to Horseplay. Rider tuition covers about one-third of the nonprofit’s expenses, according to the Horeseplay website. Private donations make up the rest.
Pumpkin, a 21-year-old horse, is Simon Eisenberg’s favorite to ride. She’s a former show horse.
Simon Eisenberg’s paintings can be viewed at 531 Merchant St., Vacaville.
“I just want him to continue to be happy and healthy,” Gary Eisenberg said of his son. “He’s so blessed that he has this creative outlet.”
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.