MONTEREY PARK ( — A 12-year-old Rosemead boy with autism is using art for therapy.

“I think art can share your own feelings,” says Armen Duran.

Natalie Gaither, his principal says, “I remember, when Armen was little, he had more difficulty expressing himself. He channeled that through art.”

That artistic talent is also helping his school — Repetto Elementary in Monterey Park. Armen just won a cash prize of $1,500 for his school in a “Jack and Jill” magazine cover art contest describing “Your Best Day Ever.”

He came in second place in 2010. But this year his schoolmates were on hand to cheer on his big win and ask him to autograph his cover.

Armen showed off his winning work to KCAL9’s Louisa Hodge. He basically drew a colorful family portrait. “This is me, my mom and my dad going kayaking,” he explained.

“That’s my boy. It’s great,” said his proud and beaming father.

His parents told Hodge that art is responsible for how far their son has come in dealing with autism. Said mom Florsie Roth. “A lot of sleepless nights and research on how to overcome it.”

Armen entered the contest because he wanted to help his school and to help other kids just like him.

While over the years he has collected binders filled with his work, he said his “Jack and Jill” cover will always hold a special place in his heart. “I know it’s a drawing I will never forget … ever.”

Gaither, the principal, says Armen will have a lot of input as to where the cash prize goes and how it’s spent — but she is leaning towards creating an art project, like a mural that can be seen for years to come.



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