‘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

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, dcmsoneill@bell.net to register in advance.

Clay-16th

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.

 

 

 

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

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

How to Encourage Creative Thinking in Children Using Visual Art Supplies by Anne Ream

I chose this article by Anne Ream because I agree with what she is saying here.  I believe everyone is born with creative abilities and children need lots of encouragement and praise from adults to develop their innate creativity.  I have found that many adults who do not recognize this creativity in themselves, lost their confidence and creative skills at some point in their childhood or youth possibly from negative feedback or criticism.  If this is so for you do not lose hope it is always possible to get back in touch with your creativity.  In my own experience I failed art in grade school which resulted in me having to get back to it later on in my life.   Your child or student can help you reconnect with your innate creativity.  I encourage you to try drawing and painting along with your child.  The important thing is to let go of your inner critic and just have fun with the experience without trying to make something look realistic or perfect.  Children naturally love to draw and play with clay.  All they need is your positive feedback and for you to set some time aside regularly and create a creative space in your home or classroom.  I know you can do it!   ….Caroline

Drawing by Evan of Monarch Butterfly Life Cycle

Drawing by Evan May '10


 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Encourage Creative Thinking in Children Using Visual Art Supplies by Anne Ream

I have a firm belief that everyone is born with creative abilities. My experience is that many people who are not aware of their creative abilities do not understand what creativity is. Unfortunately many people were not encouraged to develop their creative abilities when they were children. This is one way to encourage creative thinking in your child.

Recognizing, developing and using our creative abilities is vital. Being able to stretch our thinking to include creative solutions to our problems, creates new brain cells, increases our choices and enhances our coping skills. The best time to learn creative thinking is during our childhood while our brains are growing. Any adult who is involved with children (parents, teachers, Scout leaders) can help children raise their creativity skills.

Coloring books and “cookie-cutter” art (the type of art in which every child makes the same item) discourage creativity. Although coloring books have a time and purpose, when a child is coloring in someone else’s creation they are not learning how to create something themselves. There is also a purpose for “cookie cutter” art, however, when doing this the child is learning to follow directions from someone else. Genuine creativity is self directed.

The most important step is to understand the developmental stages of drawing. Unnecessary criticism from adults diminishes a child’s ability to grow creatively. When adults respond negatively to children they will be less likely to repeat the activity. Children begin to enjoy drawing by the time they are old enough to hold a marker and will scribble with the marker. Markers are easier for toddlers to use than crayons and safer than pencils. Adult supervision is necessary to make sure the child draws on paper and does not put the marker in their mouth. A gentle reminder that markers are used on paper will generally suffice. If a child cannot comply with this, put the markers away and try again later. Toddlers enjoy learning to control the marker and are beginning to learn about creativity as they create marks on paper. Praising children for their work (“Look at what you can do!”) and putting the work on display will encourage them to continue their efforts.

Gradually, around three to four years of age children realize that lines and shapes actually stand for something and they begin to try to make deliberate representations. It is important to encourage children to continue to explore what they can do with markers and never criticize or change their drawing. Around the age of four children begin to make pictures. Adults can encourage this by recognizing the growth the child has made and expressing their appreciation of it. During this time children will enter a stage called “Named Scribbling” in which they will look at something they have drawn, see a shape that looks like “a bird” or “a frog” and name the scribble as such. Again it is vital to appreciate this creative ability in the child in order to encourage creative growth.

From the age of 9 to about 12 years old children begin to try to make their drawings more realistic. It becomes important to them to try to make their drawings more proportional, to fill the drawing with details, make colors more realistic and learn how to overlap. At this stage children begin to feel frustrated and may ask adults for more help. Those children who have not received adult encouragement may stop drawing. If children do seem interested in being able to draw this is a good time for them to receive some drawing instruction. Drawing is a learned skill. Continue reading “How to Encourage Creative Thinking in Children Using Visual Art Supplies by Anne Ream”

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.

Using Art to Break Down the Barriers by Marilyn Rogers

The following article by Marilyn Rogers recommends Teaching Autistic Children through Art as a form of therapy.  I would like to add that you do not have to be a professional artist or art therapist yourself.  Anyone can do this. Simply setting up a creative space in your home or classroom and providing the creative tools one at a time.  Designate one area as a creative space.  It does not have to be a lot of space.  Keep the art supplies stored away in a cupboard or shelf and pull out one at a time.

For example one day let the child play with clay.  You can sit down with them and get them started by kneeding a small ball of clay into different shapes.  The natural clay has a calming effect and it is easy to find at most art supply stores – get low firing clay which is inexpensive and natural.  You can keep re using it if you want.  Children of all ages love modelling with clay.  Don’t worry about making something.  You may need to warm and soften it up first with your hands…  You can get more helpful tools in my new eGuide ‘How to Have Fun Teaching Children with Autism’ only $1 you can easily download and read more about the Tree of Life teaching method.

Try this and let me know how it goes.

Caroline

It seems there is a new angle to teaching autistic children. The idea comes from autistic children themselves. The parents of autistic children only want the best and any latest findings that may work for them; they should be made aware of it.

For those children with Autism Spectrum Disorder there is a new safe and intelligent way to give them a voice which has been silent. It gives them a bridge to the outside world and lets them speak. Teaching Autistic Children through Art actually invites you into their world. Their need to draw to visualize their non verbal expressions gives them that voice.

Many autistic children from the ages 12 and up have come forward and given an inspirational testimonial which is amazing in itself. But the autistic community is actually listening like never before. And there is something to listen to, and consider because it is actually working.

By Teaching Autistic Children through Art, it demonstrates its effectiveness by changing your child’s behavior. This therapy is a clinically-sound and safe treatment option with so many benefits, such as an increase in self awareness, developing problem solving strategies, the feeling of a safe environment and the accomplishment of their own creative thinking and self accomplishment. The development of social skill in a group or with parents is good feeling for all that participate.

Teaching Autistic Children through Art is a therapy that both parents and therapists can have a goal as they both want the child to succeed. In groups the therapists can offer many social skills and interaction with others through art techniques for certain autistic needs. The self accomplishment to create an art product would be a safe forum for emotion and self-expression. For non verbal autistic children this way of communicating is an awareness to express so many feelings which otherwise you would not “hear”.

The art visual activity provides the social skills with group integration giving a strong feeling of peer support and can be a lot of fun. Of course the social skills benefit, as they are related with recreation and leisure which are developed through the interaction.

Of course safety is an absolute when working with any art supplies. Depending on the age and comprehension of the child, the use of pencil, clay, paint, collage or even glue should be closely watched. With the building of trust you can reap great rewards and encourage communication which in the long run makes for a happier child. There may be many goals reached, so depending on the age of the child and what they are interested in see what rewards you can gather.

If you have a child with autism then you no doubt realize there are many challenges facing you as the child grows up. One of these such challenges facing parents and care givers alike is teaching autistic children.

Our site is dedicated to providing you with the information that will help you face these challenges now and in the future. Visit our site at http://www.all-about-autism.com to find out more.

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