Creative Art Adventures Club ~ a new social learning opportunity in Muskoka

I’m proud to tell you we are launching the Creative Art Adventures Club this winter on 6 Saturdays starting February 1st. This event is sponsored by the Autism Ontario Potential Programme, in partnership with Ontario Ministry of Children & Youth Services. It will be held in the Raymond Community Hall (Lower Level) 2013 Hwy 141, Utterson from 1:30 – 3:00 pm. Sign up this week with the link provided on the poster below.

DESCRIPTION: This is a new social learning opportunity for families who have exceptional children with autism. Participants will explore a variety of creative mediums to facilitate self expression in a fun supportive atmosphere. We will explore nature with storytelling, rhythm music and movement, clay modelling, drawing and painting in each afternoon session. This Club is designed for exceptional children with autism ages 5 to 11 years old who endure social anxiety and communication difficulties. Held in a kind, loving, supportive, safe environment.

We can accommodate between 4 to 6 children and their parent, sibling or guardian. Participants will learn social skills; how to co-operate and respect one another. Parents, siblings, and caregivers will benefit too as you learn to explore your own creativity and relax with the creative process so that you can continue to apply the tools at home.  You have the choice to either participate fully with you child or you can opt to join with other parents in a support circle or alternate activity.

I will need to talk with you the parent/ guardian through Skype, googlehangout or in person to see if this is the program for your child sometime this week of Jan 20th – 25th. This will include a FREE 40 min. consultation that each person will receive regardless if they choose to be in the program or not.   Contact my Assistant Carla O’Neill today to set up a meeting

COST: $72.00 per person (The cost of admission will be funded by Autism Ontario’s Potential Programme.)
Click on the link here and be one of the first to sign up.

Creative Art Adventures Club – Jenne_BIL (final)

I will also be talking to Amber Morrill, Hunter’s Bay Radio, Family Feat Program on Monday January 27th at 10:35 a.m. You can listen at the following link,

I look forward to hearing from you. If you know any family that might be interested in the above program, please do not hesitate to share.



Upcoming Creative Art Adventures Club

We held our first Creative Art Adventures this last Saturday November 16th,
in the Raymond Community Hall. A… came early to help set up a creative space.

We had great fun with everyone participating.
I introduced the Rabbit Dance Story with the drum.
It was a mild, sunny afternoon so we were able to go outdoors to explore the
grounds – S……. first noticed 8 turkeys grazing in the field next door.
K… discovered tiny bugs close to the ground – he drew a picture of a small
caterpillar on a branch. We picked milkweeds and noticed all the interior details of the pod and how the seeds are carried in the wind.
We played with clay and combined clay with granite stones.
S……. wanted to share 3 songs from The Island Princess before leaving.

We will be holding a Creative Art Adventures Club this winter 2014 on 6 Saturday afternoons starting at 1:30  until 3:00 pm.
This is a new social learning opportunity for families who have
exceptional children ages 5 to 11 with autism and or FASD or LD.

Participants will explore a variety of creative mediums to facilitate self expression in a fun supportive atmosphere.
Email Carla O’Neill, to register in advance.


'Rowan the Intrepid Explorer' by Jenny Lockwood/Teaching Children with Autism

Caroline’s Commentary:

Here is another story from Jenny Lockwood of the New Trails Centre in Texas.  Rowan’s teacher, Jenny is making learning fun for him by using his imagination to learn about the Amazon Rainforest.  Why am I posting this?  Here is an excellent example which demonstrates the seed of knowledge germinating  within Rowan as he takes charge of his own learning, where his teacher Jenny has blended in with their environment and is there to facilitate and support the process that is taking place within Rowan rather than being in a position of authority over him, she is allowing him the freedom to make use of his own creative thought process, letting him enter into the magical realm to explore and discover new horizons.  Rowan’s vocabulary has expanded in the process, as well as his power of observation, he is learning about another way of life on the Amazon and coming up with alternative options for living in harmony with the earth.  What do you think of this teaching method?  Leave your comment below.

‘Rowan the Intrepid Explorer’ by Jenny Lockwood

The wood behind Rowan’s house has a dry creek bed that runs through it which last week was transformed overnight – by the biggest thunderstorm Texas has seen in well over a year – into a flowing river. When Marvel (Rowan’s school bus who just happens to be a horse) and I went to pick Rowan up on the morning after the thunderstorm, he announced that the woods had magically become the Amazon Rainforest overnight and that once we had changed into our expedition clothes we were going to go explore.

So adorned in our expedition outfits – swim shorts and crocs – off we went to investigate. We began in the ‘Amazon river’ where we spent our time spotting birds, monkeys and other animals hiding in the bushes. We were even lucky enough to see two jaguar cubs. Whilst splashing and playing we talked about the mighty river as well as the important role that it plays in the lives of the people, plants and animals that make the rainforest their home.

From there we went off to investigate the lake – also referred to as Alligator Crossing – where, after being snapped at one time too many by hungry alligators – we found a canoe which we learned was the transportation of choice for many of the people who live close to the Amazon river.  Whilst canoeing around our lake we heard a noise and upon closer investigation discovered it to be a group of people trying to cut down some of our trees. After learning about the devastating effect that deforestation could have on a rainforest, as well as the world in general, we decided to try and stop this practice and instead show the culprits how they could use the huge number of natural resources that the rainforest has to offer in a sustainable way.

Exhausted from our adventures it was at this point we decided it was time to go home and get dry and warm and wait with anticipation for the adventure that tomorrow is sure to bring.
After all – that’s the Horse Boy way. Continue reading “'Rowan the Intrepid Explorer' by Jenny Lockwood/Teaching Children with Autism”

'Rowan's First Physics Lesson' by Jenny Lockwood/Teaching Children with Autism

Caroline’s Commentary:

Here is a story from Jenny Lockwood of The New Trails Center in Texas that we thought you might enjoy.  This is another example of making learning fun using the game of chase in the outdoors to learn about mass, volume, force and velocity.  Subsequently Rowan made up his own story incorporating these new words which showed he had understood their meaning and the basic concepts of Physics.

‘Rowan’s First Physics Lesson’ by Jenny Lockwood

Rowan has now reached the fourth grade and according to the national curriculum is ready to learn about measurement. He is already pretty confident with the idea of length, distance and speed – after all it is very important to know exactly how many miles it is to each of his favorite zoos and approximately how long it will take us to get there. However recently we decided that he was ready for us to introduce the concepts of mass, volume, force and velocity – in other words his first physics lesson.

Now, like me, many of you will recoil in horror at the word physics. How many of us sat there in class week after week bored and confused whilst our teachers droned on at us about completely abstract concepts that we considered at the time to be of no importance to our lives whatsoever? We therefore decided it was essential to begin teaching Rowan about physics in a fun and lighthearted way in order to give him the best possible chance to learn.

Rowan is an incredibly intelligent boy who will learn everything there is to know about a subject as long as he is interested in it and motivated to learn about it. The only challenge when teaching him is catching and holding his interest long enough for him to soak up the information you are trying to impart. There are a number of tried and true techniques we use to do this, the first of which is to introduce any new concept to him in a no pressure environment without, at first, expecting anything back. Of equal importance is to spend as much time as possible teaching him outdoors in a natural environment whilst he is moving and to make whatever topic we are covering as fun as possible.

We therefore spent a number of days chasing Rowan through the woods in an ‘evil godzilla style’ whilst simply talking to him about the concepts of mass, volume, force and velocity. It wasn’t long before Rowan had started incorporating these words into his vocabulary and using the concepts in a story that he made up which I have written out for you to read below. Continue reading “'Rowan's First Physics Lesson' by Jenny Lockwood/Teaching Children with Autism”

Self Care is a Priority/ Teaching Children with Autism by Caroline F. Butson

I have not written a new blog post in awhile and I was contemplating about that today.  I’ve decided to write about our need for self care since that is what I have been focused on this new year.  I believe self care is a priority for everyone in 2012. I have become a master at self care in order to overcome all the challenges that came with growing up on the autism spectrum and I wanted to share some of this with you today.  Are you easily stressed out, feeling discouraged and overwhelmed by the demands of parenting these children? I wrote an article last month about 8 steps to help you stay balanced in which I made a point of the need for your own self care when you are parenting or teaching children with autism.

We have to learn to listen to and respect our bodies.  Our body will tell us when we need to rest and recharge.  Today I went for a walk in the forest to recharge.  I do this for myself regularly because I feel mentally rested and renewed afterwards and I enjoy being outdoors in nature even when the snow is falling, it is magical to be in the forest.  I saw numerous wild animal tracks; rabbit, squirrel, deer, to name a few.  There is so much to observe in the woods it takes my mind off my problems.  I get grounded and feel good about breathing in some fresh air and getting some exercise.  Now I have to carry my elderly dog, Emma, as she does not always want to go for a walk anymore. Here is a picture of us.  Even though I am relaxing, at the same time I am absorbing and processing elements for a future painting.  Also I was pondering what I can write to you about in this blog!  When I return to work my mind is free to focus.

What do you like to do to recharge?  Share your experience below.

Horse Boy Method Intro with Rupert Isaacson

Caroline’s Commentary:

If you enjoy horses and horseback riding both you and your child will benefit from the healing power of horses.  As a parent or teacher spending time with a reliable horse will help to relieve stress and recharge.  Some children on the autism spectrum really connect with horses and you may want to explore this more with them.  Here is a video about the Horse Boy Method designed for autistic children as well as their parents, teachers and caregivers.


Modeling Animals with Clay

Yesterday the kids had great fun modeling animals with clay.  Madelyne started everyone off with her giraffe that she gave a long moustache and a beard we called the Fu Man Chu Giraffe.  Megan created a bunny rabbit she called Sad Gerald.  Leela modeled an unknown creature with a monacle and a moustache. They acted out some of Part 3 of the Story of the Sacred Tree which Megan recorded with the iPhone4 and everyone got to watch the video afterwards.  We went outdoors in spite of the drizzle to plant our sunflower seedlings in the garden – this was their first experience planting ever.  They drew up weather and human geography charts and then presented their chart to the rest of the class.

Creative Art Adventures in Rosseau!

This afternoon we held our first Creative Art Adventures  in Rosseau!   Hooray!  Kim told us about her Great Aunt Elsie who used to live on a farm outside Rosseau -she and Uncle Lloyd used to collect rocks.  We took turns reading  the story called ‘Everybody Needs A Rock’ – Madelyne read out loud for the first time a couple of pages even!  After the story we went outdoors to find our own rock in the garden surrounding the Ruth Dare Clinic.  We also discovered an unusual type of mushroom that looked like a rock.   It was a scorching hot afternoon so we did not stay outside for long.  We got onto the topic of Family Trees and everyone drew their own version of their family tree.  It was a challenge to remember all the names of our grandparents and great grandparents as well as uncles and aunts then we shared our family tree with everyone.   Evan talked more than he has ever in class for about 10 minutes non stop.  He was explaining to us how the water level of Georgian Bay has gone up and down in cycles over the past 11 years of his life and why that is so.  We also talked about building the new Tree of Life Centre and Evan suggested we need blueprints.   Meredith’s son Aiden joined us for The Rabbit Dance when it was time to close.  We all enjoyed being in this beautiful environment and had fun learning.

The Story of the Sacred Tree

Here is this morning’s entry from my teaching journal in which I record the progress of each class.

“I felt uplifted and good about yesterday’s class – ‘Creative Art Adventures’  We all had fun learning and laughed alot as we acted out the ‘Story of the Sacred Tree’ Part 2.  The boys both wanted to be the ‘bad guy’ who tries to cut down the Tree of Life so I gave them both the opportunity by going over it a couple of times.  Evan had a wicked smile on his face as he got his chain saw going and got into the roar of the engine,  meanwhile Trevor waited for his turn trying to contain his excitement.  He was the Golden Eagle perched on top of the Tree ( Megan was the Tree of Life) who later swoops down and grazes the shoulder of the man to try to stop him from cutting down the Sacred Tree.  Madelyne wanted to be a chipmunk and she had fun scurrying around the base of the Tree.  Leela was just about everyone else switching from one to the next,  first the Elders then the Salmon,  then the Racoon, the Deer , the Wolf and finally last but not least the Rabbit.

The second time round Evan narrated the story while Trevor got to be the ‘bad guy’ he got to stamp his boots and show off his new running shoes which flashed their lights each time he stomped.  Madelyne still wanted to be the chipmunk.  Leela became the Sacred Tree while Megan got to be everyone else.  I made a video clip with my iPhone4 and everyone got to watch themselves afterwards which produced  peals of laughter.

We went outdoors and observed the fresh new growth of spring.  The old maple tree has just budding it’s new leaves.   The garden has burst forth this week with all the rain and sunshine we have had”.