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

 

ClubMay3

 

 

 

 

 

Nicolas D. NicolasSettingUp

Jasmine G.

Jasmine&Coconut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Would You Like a Loving Community Space in Muskoka for Your Exceptional Child?

We are currently conducting a survey. Would You Like a Loving Community Space in Muskoka for Your Exceptional Child?

Would you want a place available in Muskoka, Ontario, to bring your exceptional child on the autism spectrum where they feel accepted and inspired to learn?

The Purpose of this Survey is to learn:

1.  If you would be interested in bringing your exceptional child or student to this community space.

2.  Where exactly in Muskoka you would like this community space to be built.

We value your feedback, and would appreciate if you took a few moments to respond to 10 questions AND write down any specific concerns or questions.

Here is the link to the survey on Surveymonkey.com

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PZVV2BV

What's Happening Update 25 February 2013

What’s Happening ~ Update re Survey ‘Would You Like a Loving Community Space in Muskoka for Your Exceptional Child?’ 

So far 14 parents and teachers have responded  to the 10 questions.

Q1.  89% responded Yes they are interested in having a place like this in Muskoka

Q2.  14% are willing to travel up to one hour to get to this community space; 29% are willing to travel up to 45 minutes and 57% are willing to travel no more than 30 minutes

Q3 & Q4.  75% would prefer it to be located West of the Town of Huntsville; 12.5% East of Huntsville;  12.5% would prefer north of Rosseau village and

37 % had a variety of other suggestions based on proximity to their community.

Q5.  50% preferred it to be located on a small lake; 16.6% with streams and a pond; 16.6% wanted no waterfront of any kind.  One commented “Water is nice, land is also nice, as long as there’s a healthy nature element.”

Q6.  What would parents like to do after they drop off their child?  25% meet with other parents for support; 25% have a bite to eat; 12.5% receive a massage or Reiki; 25% go for a walk or a swim;  25%  go into town to go shopping;  25% rest in a quiet reading room

62.5% chose all of the above

Q7.  65% are interested in volunteering in their area of passion

Q8.  50% said Classes September till June;  33% May long weekend until Thanksgiving; 16% all year long; 0% summer only

Q9.  57% preferred classes on Saturdays; 42% after school and 15% during school hours

Q10.  One of the mother’s Comments was, “I really like where this is going.  I think it would be really special to have something of this nature available to exceptional kids!”

Play is an Integral part of Teaching Children with Autism

Caroline’s Commentary:

Jenny Lockwood, who teaches Rowan at the New Trails Centre School in Texas, shares with us her experience using Play dough to make learning about ancient History fun.  Exceptional children love modelling with clay and integrating the element of play into every lesson is both more fun for you and easier for them to learn. I prefer to use modelling clay as it is a natural product of the Earth rather than man made Play dough, however that being said if you have Play dough more readily available, use it. 

‘From Play dough plays to Puzzles’ by Jenny Lockwood

I have been teaching Rowan Isaacson (aka ‘The Horse Boy’) for over three years now and during that time we have together discovered a number of different techniques that help him to receive and retain new information. Key to his learning is movement – if he is forced to sit still at a desk all he will learn is how to sit at a desk. However if his body is allowed to move his mind is free to take in information. Just as important, however, is incorporating his interests into what we are learning about, if he is motivated intrinsically by a topic he is much more likely to not only remember it but want to learn more about it.

I don’t think there are many of us who didn’t play with play dough when we were kids. The combination of color and texture and the limitless possibilities on offer makes the salty dough irresistible to children of all ages. But I wonder how many of us realized the potential for learning that lies within this simple childhood play thing.

Play dough has also been an integral part of Rowan’s learning for some time now, helping him understand everything from fractions to division to decimals. He loves the color and feel of the dough and it often much more motivated to learn when we incorporate it into our lessons. However, this summer he took his love of playdough to the next level when he invented the playdough play.

Rowan’s passion this summer has been learning about history and his particular focus has been the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Every day for a week we spent some time each morning fashioning Greeks, Romans or Visigoths out of play dough and then using them to reenact moments from history that we have been learning about. Never was a playdough moment so poignant as when a purple Julius Cesar was killed by a blue Brutus.

Keeping with an artistic theme Rowan, who loves to puzzle, decided we should also make our own ‘Horrible History’ puzzles again depicting the Greeks and Romans. So far we have created a Roman Communal toilet puzzle and a puzzle depicting when the Visigoths sacked Rome.

It is important when working with children with autism to keep things as visual and interesting as possible and using art projects to supplement your learning is one way to do this.

For more information regarding Rowan, The Horse Boy and the techniques we use to teach him please visit our website at www.horseboyworld.com or email jenny@horseboyworld.com.

 

 

 

'Entering Their Imaginative World' by Dan Edmunds

Caroline’s Commentary:

Here is an interesting article by Dan Edmunds for you which may help you connect with the autistic student.  The key is for you to enter their world through your creative imagination.  Please share your experience below.

‘Entering Their Imaginative World’ by Dan Edmunds

In dealing with children with autism spectrum disorders, its all about relationship. These children are within a realm where they feel and respond much differently than others. There has been much focus on trying to eliminate certain behaviors or to evoke particular responses in children which actually become rote and repetitive for them without context. One of the goals in aiding these children should be in helping them find meaning. In order to do this we must be willing to not look at the child as broken, unable to respond, or even unable to communicate. These children DO communicate, however they are not always able to manipulate their senses to communicate in the typical ways of other children. As a result, they can become easily frustrated and trapped. The therapist must enter their imaginative world and learn to communicate in their language. Continue reading “'Entering Their Imaginative World' by Dan Edmunds”

'Art & Music is Vital for the Autistic Student' by Caroline F. Butson

All children receive many benefits on multiple levels from art education whether or not they are on the autism spectrum.  However for the autistic child art and music 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, painting and playing music are also a multi-sensory experience engaging the autistic child 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 benefit the autistic student?

I would say that the healing or therapeutic 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.  Learning how to express themselves with paint and music 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, they have a disorder or they 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 when there are one in 88 of children world wide being diagnosed on the autism spectrum.  Art and soothing music will help them feel connected to the world around them and to the people in their life; their family and peers in school as well as out of school.   Art is therapeutic in and of itself because it heals on every level physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

A lot depends on how art is taught.  When the teacher can encourage the students and allow them freedom of expression they can play a very positive role. Whereas 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 feel confident within themselves to help the autistic child with their artistic expression.  It is important that the teaching goes both ways; as much as the student learns from the teacher, the teacher must also learn from the student.

Life Cycle of Monarch Butterfly by Evan

 

 

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 other ways 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 a question or comment please send it to me below or the Contact page.  Enjoy…Caroline

'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”

Creative Arts Necessary in the daily Life of Classroom/Teaching Children with Autism by Caroline F. Butson

I was recently interviewed by a teacher for students with autism in the Bronx who is also a graduate student doing research.  Her question was “Do existing art programs facilitate/support the communication needs and engagement of students with autism?” This is a great question especially where students are not receiving regular art instruction. Here is the beginning of my answer:
” I’m not sure that existing art programs support the students with autism
or not as I am not familiar enough with them however I do know that
autistic children learn best when the teacher can be creative in making
learning fun and teaching using lots of visual tools.
Any subject can be taught using the creative arts.   This is what I am
trying to do here at the Tree of Life Centre for Creativity with the
Creative Art Adventures.  Waldorf education is one other  example of this
way where every subject in every grade is taught creatively.  I know there
has to be less emphasis on fancy techniques and drawing realistic and more
emphasis on encouraging to use all the creative tools available and keeping
it simple for everyone, both teacher and student.  It’s all very simple just
be who you are and express who you are and let go of other’s expectations of
who they want you to be.  A teacher is one of the most influential person in
the life of a child and having an attitude of acceptance and encouragement
is key to teaching a child on autism spectrum. Accentuate the positive and watch how the child with autism blossoms! They have a lot of gifts and talents to offer.  They will gradually come out of their shell in their own time and when they are ready.
Creative expression needs to be a part of the daily life in the classroom and at home. It’s not enough to just have 45 minutes or one hour a week in
the timetable for an art class.  That is a good start but not enough.

Art needs to be woven into the daily fabric of society at every level. Art, poetry and music is what makes us human beings and not bio robots.”