People with autism generally see the world through a different lens than the rest of the world, and it’s often one with a singular focus. Such is the case with 12-year-old Anthony Schmidt. Anthony is driven—by his obsession for cars.
His extensive collection of model cars is mind-boggling, but Anthony’s love of automobiles doesn’t stop there. He also has an encyclopedic knowledge of pretty much every car that’s ever been built from their first inception to today’s latest models.
Show him a car, and he can tell you everything about it down to the smallest detail. It was a skill that came in handy for some New York detectives who had only a grainy image of a suspect’s car in an ongoing criminal investigation.
When Anthony saw the picture, he was able to identify its make, model, and year immediately—making it one getaway car that didn’t get away after all. Thanks to Anthony’s fine-tuned savvy, the suspect was apprehended soon after.
Anthony lives with his mom, Ramona, near Seattle, Washington. She says her son’s car enthusiasm began when he was about 2 years old. By age 6, he’d begun creating a photographic series of tableaus starring his model cars staged in hyper-realistic settings.
When he was 9, Ramona launched an Instagram page to showcase Anthony’s extraordinary work. He’s got a Facebook page as well.
“Everyone freaked out,” Ramona told the Woodinville Weekly. “He gets recognized in public. There was an overwhelming response from people asking for calendars or coffee table books.”
With his mom’s help, Anthony has since gone on to launch his own product line that includes books, calendars, photographic prints, and other branded merchandise, all of which can be found on his Anthony Schmidt Photography website.
To keep track of his 600-something model collection, Anthony uses an Excel spreadsheet. Like many people with autism, organization and mathematics are intrinsic to his worldview.
Structure and routine are also important. So every day, with his mom to assist, Anthony painstakingly sets up a photoshoot—indoors or outside, depending on the weather—arranging and tweaking the cars and their surroundings until he’s sure he’s got the perfect shot.
The results of his singular vision are often breathtaking.
“It’s truly because of the autism, not in spite of it,” Ramona told KOMO News 4.
Anthony Schmidt loves cars. His mom says he plans to make them his life’s work. He hopes to inspire others with special needs and their families by living his success story one day at a time for everyone to see. “You can set your mind to whatever you want,” he explained.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but Anthony’s determined focus does more than simply create beautiful imagery, it opens a window to another world and another way of seeing altogether. And that is a precious gift for all of us.