‘Program Links Arts and Autism’ by Jan Pitman

Caroline’s Commentary:

Jan Pitman wrote this article which was published on July 9th, 2014 in ‘What’s Up Muskoka,’ page 14, ‘Program Links Arts and Autism.’  This article was about the pilot project held  throughout 2014.  We met on Thursday afternoons starting at 1:30 pm in the Raymond Community Hall in Utterson, 2013 Hwy 141.

A program that utilizes the arts to promote healing is gaining momentum in Muskoka. Caroline Butson helps families and their children with autism using creative arts classes as part of the Creative Art Adventures Club for Children with Autism.

Butson believes that through the arts she has been able to manage many of the challenges children with autism face. The art stimulates the brain and calms the nervous system alleviating the effects of autism.

She started the Creative Arts Adventure Club at the beginning of 2014 with a trial run of 12 weeks. That proved highly successful, says Butson.
Children in the new program can range in age from five to 16 and are welcome to join the classes with their families or support workers. It is also open to siblings and friends who are not on the autism spectrum.

“We do different activities together, for example story telling, rhythm music, clay modelling or painting,” says Butson. “The paintings are very large, the children paint with the whole body. I am giving them the tools to express themselves because they can’t do it with words. Also, I help parents to connect with their children.”

Up to six families can meet once a week at the Raymond Community Hall at Highway 141, which Butson rents for her classes. The Tree of Life Art Adventures Club is sponsored by the Autism Ontario Potentials Programme and Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services.

“I would like to hold classes twice a week,” she says, “there are around 600 children in Muskoka registered with autism , and many more children who need help and are not registered. Our classes are simple, light and fun.”

Participants learn social skills along with how to co-operate and respect one another. Parents, siblings and caregivers also benefit and learn to relax with the creative process, so that they can apply these tools at home.

http://eedition.whatsupmuskoka.com/doc/Whats-Up-Muskoka/wum_july9_virtualedition/2014070801/#14

Yes we did it! With a Me to We approach!

It was a long relenting cold winter  in 2014 but in spite of the challenging driving conditions we managed to launch the Creative Art Adventures Club in the middle of winter with 4 families participating. The children came with their parent or their support worker who participated with them throughout the experience, sharing the storytelling, clay modelling, drawing, and painting.
A wonderful volunteer, Lea D. stepped in wherever a helping hand was needed; with registration, setting up the space, or surprising us with a beautiful colorful banner to hang up in the hall.
When the spring finally came, ‘me’ became a ‘we’ as 2 student volunteers joined us, Jasmine and Gabrielle, from Rosseau Lake College, as well as Nicolas from B.M.L.S.S. who assisted with many aspects of setting up the room and providing a gentle pillar of support for the small boys. Hooray we did it!

Portrait-LeaDLea Dooley

 

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Nicolas D. NicolasSettingUp

Jasmine G.

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The Creative Art Adventures Club is happening!

Caroline’s Commentary:

In spite of the severe cold and heaps of snow we have had a great beginning to the Creative Art Adventures Club in the winter of 2014.  Here are a few of the children’s paintings from the first club.  We use large sheets of 4′ x 5 ‘ paper taped to the wall which gives them lots of their own space to move freely as they are painting.  These young artists are 5 and 6 years old painting with their parent or support worker.

Braeden'sPainting1Brenden'sPainting2Myah'sPainting1MyahPainting2

Mural Painting at the Kaleidoscope Children's Festival 2012

Children of all ages and abilities had great fun painting together this past Saturday at the Kaleidoscope Children’s Festival at Play World,Clevelands House in Minett.  I gave them the freedom to paint large using wide brushes all along a fence outdoors in the fresh clean air in the shade.  ‘We want to do this every weekend!’ some of them said.

Have you tried this with your children yet?

How did it go and how did they respond?

It’s easy – give it a go!

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PTHqbgLXxg&feature=em-share_video_user

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manifesting the Vision /TREE of LIFE CENTRE for CREATIVITY by Caroline F. Butson

Manifesting the Vision for the new TREE of LIFE CENTRE for CREATIVITY by Caroline F. Butson

The Tree of Life Centre for Creativity, founded by Caroline Butson in 2006 was born out of Caroline’s dreams and those of her circle of family, friends, students and supporters.  We all shared a common dream of creating a living learning centre that would be a wellspring of inspiration, creativity, learning and healing.  It has been a place of peace where people of all backgrounds, cultures, spiritual paths, and ages come together and grow.  The Centre was built around Caroline’s journey to wellness and her vision to build a learning centre for children within the autism spectrum.

The Tree of Life Centre for Creativity has thrived and is now ready to expand!  This new growth will reflect the collective thought of those involved in this project.  To breathe life into this vision will take the efforts and contributions of a collection of  individuals and organizations as well as the children and families who have been participating over the past few years.  The proposal lays out four clear and specific pathways by which the community can contribute in a meaningful way: the pathway to the land, the pathway to the infrastructure, the pathway to the structures of the new Tree of Life Centre for Creativity and the artist’s residence and the pathway to the people.  In order to hold our program in a fun, safe, inspirational environment, we want to build a simple, sustainable, comfortable year round Centre in 2014.

Please visit http://www.tlc4.ca to read further on the Centre’s Mission and Caroline’s background.

Mural by members of Friday Friends at Playsense in Guelph by Caroline F. Butson

On January 20, I was invited to facilitate a group of young adults at Playsense in Guelph, called Friday Friends, led by Nicole Jacobs.  After everyone shared their experience in a circle with Nicole, I helped them express themselves with earth rhythm music and clay modelling.  We created a group floor ‘mural’ with everyone participating fully. They loved this new experience.  Here are a few of their bright drawings.  Nicole assisted me with the Creative Art Adventures classes in 2009 and ’10 in her final year of high school.  This experience gave her direction and helped her find her own mission in life working with autistic youth. This is so rewarding for me to know that the volunteers who assist with our students are receiving valuable experience and the direction to help them find their own life path.

'Steps to Help You Teach Children with Autism' by Caroline F. Butson

You may be feeling grief upon receiving a diagnosis that your child has Autism or Aspergers Syndrome etc. Do not despair! There is hope! Many individuals on the autism spectrum have grown up to have productive, fulfilling lives. Your child can still have a bright future! One out of 120 children coming into the world are now being diagnosed with some form of autism. It appears to be becoming a world wide epidemic. You are not alone. Here are three alternative steps to take to improve your child’s life and your own:

1. Creative expression
2. Telepathic Communication
3. Life Style Changes

It may be helpful to understand that many of them are Indigo or Rainbow children. This means that these children have more activated DNA, they are extremely sensitive, gifted, and highly intelligent. At the same time their speech may be delayed or others may have physical developmental challenges.

As such, children on the autism spectrum are often gifted in painting, drawing, sculpture and music. When you allow them to express themselves in these other mediums, the whole family will benefit. Creative expression is therapeutic in and of itself, as it allows freedom for feelings to be expressed in a safe, fun way. These feelings may otherwise be buried and come out later in a destructive way. For all of us, with or without autism, emotional expression is vital for our health and well-being. It is a normal part of being human. This is why music, painting, and drawing is important for autistic children. It provides them with another language, which may be easier, for the autistic child than verbal expression.

You don’t have to be a professional artist or art therapist to support your child in expressing themselves. You can paint or draw along with them or create music together. If this is a challenge for you, just keep it simple and fun. Try to let go of your inner critic. Art education is vital for the development of the autistic child because it will develop their inner realm, and will help them discover who they are and how they fit into the world around them.

These children have a highly sensitive metabolism which means they may have a tendency to become overwhelmed by large groups of people, large classrooms, noise, and emotion. When they are feeling overwhelmed or over stimulated they can either withdraw further within themselves and from the outer world or they can become more hyperactive, or escalate the situation to have an emotional meltdown. At this point hugging or holding them can feel uncomfortable or even painful for the autistic child if they are highly sensitive to touch or energy. A highly sensitive autistic child may be clear sentient, clairvoyant and telepathic. It is more natural and easier for them to communicate this way. You will learn to appreciate their strengths and what they have to offer the world.

The worst thing you can do is nothing and give up on them. Remind yourself that you are not alone. There is lots of support today in the form of many different kinds of therapies and programs. It is important to find the ones that are suitable for you and your child. Additionally, you may have to make some adjustments in your lifestyle such as looking for alternative choices in education, and housing options to help them adjust. Likewise they may feel better eating a diet of healthy organic fruits and vegetables for the most part.

Your own self-care is most important as you can easily become drained by the demands of parenting or teaching these kids. This is being wisely selfish. Do whatever you need to do to stay balanced and recharged. You know yourself best. Do something you love to do every day so you don’t get burnt out. You are the most important person to influence your child. Continue reading “'Steps to Help You Teach Children with Autism' by Caroline F. Butson”

Multiple Benefits of Teaching Art to Children with Autism by Caroline F. Butson

Here is my answer to the question asked of me this week by a University of Arizona student for her research paper:

All children receive many benefits on multiple levels from art education whether they are on the autism spectrum or not.  However for the autistic child art education is vital for their growth and development.  Autistic children learn best when learning is visual and by making learning fun.  Besides being a tool for helping the autistic child express themselves the Arts and Music are also a multi-sensory experience engaging the student with all of their senses; visually as well as through touch, smell and sound.  Teaching must be creative and any subject can be taught using art as a tool, including the maths and sciences.

How does art education most benefit the autistic student?
I would say that the healing aspect of art is most beneficial in that it develops the inner realm of the child and will help them discover who they truly are and how they fit into the world around them.  Art will help them gain self confidence and self esteem which will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  They often get the message that they are different, have a disorder, have an ‘incurable disease’, that they don’t fit in socially to the mainstream.  Children with autism are just as much a part of society as so called ‘typical’ kids especially nowadays there are millions of children world wide being diagnosed on the autism spectrum.  Art will help them feel connected to the world around them and to the people in their life; their family and peers in and out of school.   Art is therapeutic in and of itself because it is heals on every level physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

A lot depends on how art education is taught.  When the teacher can encourage the students and allow them freedom of expression they can play a positive role just as a negative critical teacher can discourage self expression and turn the student off art and make them feel inadequate or shamed.  It is necessary therefore that the teacher nourish there own creative expression so that they can be in a better position to help the autistic child with theirs.  It is important that the teaching goes both ways; that the student learns from the teacher and the teacher must also learn from the student.

Of course the autistic student will learn basic skills like listening and following directions and using materials properly but the child with autism often does not or cannot understand words so as a teacher you have got to communicate what you want them to learn in other ways.  The teacher has got to be creative in getting across the lesson in creative ways other than verbally. If the student has not got the lesson then you have to find another way to get the lesson across.

If you have another question or comment please send it to me below or the Contact page.  Enjoy…Caroline