Autism Speaks Through a Woodworker's Gift - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
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Autism Speaks Through a Woodworker's Gift

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    When you realize your gift and find your calling, the pieces of life's puzzle fall into place. That's how 21-year-old Gregory Chabolla carved out a woodworking career for himself. (Published Friday, June 17, 2016)

    Gregory Chabolla is a woodworker who has a gift for creating things out of love.

    "I just put a lot of love in these," Chabolla said, sitting at his scroll saw in his Liberty Hill workshop. "It makes me feel proud."

    Chabolla's work is sold at craft shows and rodeos. Some of the creations are so intricate they take days to complete. Chabolla's latest project will be presented next week to top teams at the Autism Speaks 17th Annual Celebrity Golf Challenge at Winged Foot Golf Club in New York.

    Chabolla's life wasn't supposed to be like this.

    "I was told he would never talk, dress himself, do anything," his mother, Michelle Chabolla, said. "They basically said there are institutions for children like this."

    Gregory Chabolla was 2-and-a-half years old when he was diagnosed with autism.

    "It was bad," his mother recalled. "I mean, you look up the word and the very first thing is there's no cure."

    His mother refused to accept he would not do things other children and adults can do. When the family moved from Colorado to Texas in 2013, he took an interest in the woodworking.

    "He took a few lessons from his friend, Patsy," Michelle Chabolla laughed. Pasty Williams lived in the neighborhood and made woodworking crosses.

    "We started out doing really simple things," Williams said. "It's amazing! He's just so focused and precise with everything he does."

    When Gregory Chabolla works he is able to tune out the world and tune into his project. In a strange and beautiful way, his mother thinks autism might actually help make him such a talented woodworker.

    "When he looks at that pattern, you and I see the outline," she explained. "He actually see what that's going to be and makes it!"

    "It's been a remarkable experience to see Gregory grow up," his grandmother, Trisha Dobson, said through tears. "He feels responsible, I think, to take part of his dad's place."

    Gregory Chabolla's father passed away suddenly in January 2013.

    "Very hard," Michelle Chabolla recalled. "Very hard indeed." He never saw the talent his son had with a scroll saw.

    "He's as good as anyone I know with a scroll saw," his grandmother said proudly.

    "It's just been remarkable to watch him and to see him succeed," she added. "And now he has the career he always wanted."

    We asked Gregory what he wanted people to know about people, like him, with autism.

    "That they can learn something," he said. "I enjoy it every day of my life."

    If you want to see some of Gregory Chabolla's work, Gregory's Special Creations is on Facebook and his website is http://www.gregorysgifts.com.

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