The Autism Spectrum Disorder, more commonly called as ASD of Autism, is a condition that could have wide-ranging symptoms for people. Difficulties in social interaction, communication, and focus on certain interests can limit people with autism and may further lead to behavioral challenges.
But this isn’t the case for everyone. Despite unique challenges, there are people with autism that can live beyond their diagnosis and enjoy a full and meaningful life. And such is the case for woodworker Gregory Chabolla.
Gregory Chabolla’s Story – From Heavy Diagnosis to a Woodworking Business
Back in 1998, 3 ½ years old, Gregory was diagnosed with a form of autism called the Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified or PDD-NOS. We asked his mom, Michelle, about Gregory’s growing up years and how he was able to handle his condition.
True enough, as they say, you would never understand autism and what changes it brings to a family’s life until you have experienced it yourself. And for Gregory and his family, it came with a heavy diagnosis.
But with the support of his family, Gregory did not let that diagnosis define his life. He was able to accomplish much more than what was “predicted” for him by his doctors, and proceeded to take interest in woodworking and became an accomplished woodworker.
And all began with an encounter with a woodworker that sparked interest within Gregory. Often, we are familiar with power tools such as our favorite and powerful professional chainsaws, but it takes someone introducing us to the ropes to really get into it. We asked him how he was introduced to woodworking.
Patsy agreed to teach Gregory woodworking, seeing how he was interested in doing it. They started working on easy woodworking projects and then eventually branched out to more complicated cuts and designs. Gregory was able to turn that initial interest into a full career, and even started selling his works to other people.
His woodworking business grew across Texas and online too, especially when his official website and Facebook account allowed people to easily reach him for orders or even just to express their admiration of his works. Gregory’s woodwork products now range from intricate designs on crosses and unique designs on Texas Mesquite to custom pieces on different kinds of wood, far from the beginner pieces that the best woodworking books cover. But Gregory’s favorite pieces to make are those where he can put his skills to work.
Gregory is also very active in joining art shows and festivals, and through Facebook, he often invites people to join him and see his work. So beyond being able to create something and showcase his talents as a woodworker, his interaction with his customers and family through his woodwork brings joy into his life.
Indeed, Gregory’s life and woodworking career is a story that could inspire thousands of lives. It’s an investment, but it need not be hard on the pocket, such as with under $1000 table saws. Despite his condition, he was able to find his passion and use it to make the most out of it, including the benefits of income and of course, sense of pride and fulfillment. His mom thinks the same way, too.
If you are inspired to try out woodworking or know someone who would be interested to start learning about it, you may start to focus on its general benefits and then build your own workshop second. Even woodwork projects for children are quite beneficial, too. Gregory himself attests to it.
And if safety is a concern, just always remember that following proper safety precautions and necessary guidance would go a long way in woodworking. In Gregory’s case, it’s his focused mind and careful steps that allow him to stay safe while working on pieces, even when working with a power tool, his favorite scroll saw. When we asked his mother if safety is a constant concern, this is what she said.
Summary – What can we learn from Gregory’s Story
Woodworking has become a means for people to live their lives fully despite different circumstances in life. We’ve previously talked to a former drug addict that found a new life in woodworking and people suffering from CPTSD who use woodworking as a way to cope with their symptoms, but Gregory’s story is a very special one that’s rarely encountered nowadays.
We’re grateful to Gregory and his mom Michelle for sharing with us his wonderful journey. For other parents out there, don’t hesitate to encourage you child to do something new that will challenge and teach them. Woodworking is a great starting point. If they’re interested to learn, there are a lot of woodworking kits for kids and online resources nowadays, so they can learn even without a teacher.
You can also start on your own, and any of these one-sheet plywood projects is a great place to start.