Teenage artist with autism creates masterful sketches using photographic memory

Sixteen years Yap Hanzhen from Malaysia apparently suffered from a childhood where even the simplest communication was difficult. Hanzhen’s parents say he barely spoke for most of his teenage years.

Like many children who display difficulty communicating during early development, Yap was found to have a form of autism – a fact that his parents had difficulty convincing doctors and child psychologists, who were apparently quick to speculate that simple bad parenting was the source of young Yap’s speech difficulties.

By taking care of the special needs of their young son, Yap’s parents gave him a sketchbook and pencil to help him match vignettes with words for everyday objects, inadvertently nurturing a latent talent that would end up seeing Yap go around the world, showing off his extraordinary designs.


By his own admission, Yap’s sketches benefit from the boy’s “photographic memory”, which allows him to remember the extremely fine details of things he has seen for up to 24 hours after leaving the scene. Yap takes great care in his sketches, preferring 3B or softer tracks that allow for finer gradation and, we hear, other cool stuff that is beyond us.


Yap’s works were chosen to be exhibited at the Asia ParaArt Tokyo competition in Japan, and the boy even published his works in his own compilation book.

According to the young artist’s website, about one in ten people with autism display some type of “scholar” talent. If Yap’s first talent may be drawing, he is also interested in music and wants to be both an artist and a musician when he finishes his studies. Yap says he devotes six hours a day to his homework and up to six hours a day to his art.

For comparison, we spent six hours yesterday watching cat videos on the Internet.

hanzhen10 hanzhen9 hanzhen7 hanzhen6 hanzhen2 hanzhen1 hanzhen8

Source: The Straits Times
Images: Official site of Yap Hanzhen

Michael E. Marquez