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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Making Learning Fun for Teaching Children with Autism is Key

Caroline’s Commentary:

Here is some great practical advice from a father of a girl with Autism, Henry Bee.

1.  Set up a safe learning space or ‘Therapy Room’

2.  Enter their world

3.  One on one learning sessions

4.  Interactive Computer based aids

5.  Do things children love doing with them

How do you make learning fun for your child or student?  Please share or comment below.

 

The Five Best Teaching Aids for Children With Autism and Special Needs by Henry Bee

We have had over ten years experience with tutoring and teaching our daughter with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Below is some of the Teaching Aids we used that we think were the most successful in her development and learning. These methods can be used with any child with or without an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Pervasive Development Disorder or Special Needs.

Teaching Aid 1 – Setting up a Therapy Room
In the beginning what got us going was the SON RISE program. Liz went to America to the Option Institute and did a two week course on how to cope with a child with Autism, methods for working with and tutoring a child with Autism and how to set up a therapy room for a tutoring a child with Autism and or Special Needs.

The course is not just for Parents of children with Autism, but also for children with Learning Difficulties, Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD) and children with Special Needs in general. The course also focusses a great deal on how to deal on an emotional level with the fact that your child has an intellectual disability, and there is ongoing support if you so wish.

So on Liz’s arrival back home we set up a therapy room. We used a spare bedroom and painted it in bright colours. We set it up with shelves and storage drawers, play equipment, a computer and printer, a suitable child’s height table and chairs for table top work and a sturdy floor covering. The basic idea was to have a room the child can identify with as a learning and fun area only, somewhere that they will in time know that when they are in there it is time to learn. Continue reading “Making Learning Fun for Teaching Children with Autism is Key”

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.

'The world needs all kinds of minds' Temple Grandin talks at TED Conference

Caroline’s commentary:

I watched the movie ‘Temple Grandin’ again over the Christmas holiday.  If you have not seen it yet, you must watch it.  Here is a talk Dr. Grandin gave at a TED Conference just after the release of the movie about her life, where she emphasizes the world needs all different kinds of minds: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers and verbal thinkers.   She also stresses the importance of mentors as teachers in high schools and one on one tutoring for autistic children under 5.  “You’ve got to show student’s interesting stuff to learn,” says Temple.

Here at the Tree of Life Centre for Creativity, in the Creative Art Adventures program, the student’s learn about all sorts of subjects:  natural life cycles, weather patterns, insects, all kinds of animals, geography, the 4 elements, air, fire, water, earth, and how we humans are connected to all the elements and to all life.  We teach all subjects through painting, drawing, clay modelling, music and storytelling.  The children are encouraged to follow whatever interests them, in this way the learning experience is exciting and fun for everyone.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn_9f5x0f1Q

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.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vizsT4_g9A&feature=related

'The Horse Boy Story & Method' by Jenny Lockwood

Caroline’s Commentary:

Here is an overview of The Horse Boy Story and Method by Rowan’s  teacher,  Jenny Lockwood.  I highly recommend both the documentary film and the book ‘The Horse Boy’ as well as the Horse Boy Method of teaching academics which will be posted next month, mid December.  Even if you do not have access to horses, the Horse Boy Method can be utilized for teaching children on the autism spectrum.  It is even possible for an autistic child to draw or paint on a horse!

Rupert Isaacson, a lifelong horse fanatic, was devastated when his 2 year old son Rowan was diagnosed with autism. Gone were his dreams of one day sharing his passion of horses with his son…or so he thought. Rowan seemed unreachable, however, whenever his dad took him into the woods behind their house, his tantrums and stimmings seemed to calm down. One day, Rowan ran away from his dad and got through the fence into their neighbor’s property and in amongst his horse herd. Rupert had been keeping his son away from horses – thinking him unsafe around them. However, that day he witnessed something extraordinary. Instead of trampling this squirming, babbling little child lying on his back among their hooves, the horses backed off gently. Then the boss of the herd, a mare called Betsy, came over and began to lower her head in front of Rowan, to lick and chew with her lips. This is the sign of equine submission. Rupert, Rowan’s dad, had never seen a horse voluntarily make this submission gesture to a human being before. Clearly something was passing between the horse and the little boy so Isaacson talked to his neighbor Stafford, who owned Besty, and got the key to his saddle room.

For three years father and son rode every day through the woods and fields of Central Texas and – first through Betsy, then spontaneously, Rowan began to talk, to engage with his environment and other people. In 2007 Rowan, his dad, and mother – Kristin Neff, a psychology professor at the University of Texas – took a journey across Mongolia on horseback, going from traditional healer to traditional healer, shaman to shaman, looking for healing. They went out with a child still tantrumming, still un-toilet trained, and cut off from other children. They came back with a child no longer tantruming, toilet trained and able to make friends. Rupert wrote a book about his family’s adventure, and also produced a film which documented the trip. Both are titled ‘The Horse Boy’

After returning from Mongolia, the Isaacson family started the Horse Boy Foundation to help make horses and nature available to other children, autistic or not, who might not otherwise have access to them. Over approximately seven years of working with autistic children and horses Rupert stumbled upon a number of techniques that seemed to bring about better verbal communication with his son. Soon after Rowan’s success Rupert began working with other local children on the spectrum to see if what had worked with Rowan and Betsy would also work for them. After a couple more years Rupert realized that he had a system of techniques in place that targeted different types of autism spectrum challenges. Since 2009 he has been working internationally with the Horse Boy Method™ at camps and centers in North America and Europe.

Continue reading “'The Horse Boy Story & Method' by Jenny Lockwood”

Social Skills and Self-Esteem: Nine Strategies to Help Your Kids See Their Greatness By Ellen Mossman-Glazer

I like this article by Ellen Mossman-Glazer and would like to share her simple strategies.  It is very important to be conscious about words you use in communicating with your child or student with autism.  When we are praised there is no hardship or obstacle we feel is too difficult.  The child with autism responds to words of praise and especially your tone of voice because they may not understand the words themselves.  If you find yourself getting frustrated with them try stepping back and taking a break to regain your center and return when you are more together.   Watch how they blossom when you practice encouragement.  They have gifts and talents in many areas and you may need to start thinking out of the box to see them to acknowledge them.  Many children on the spectrum love all sorts of animals like chipmunks and racoons and bugs like caterpillars so learning how to appreciate some animals you may have thought are a menace may be helpful.  Bugs and beetles can fascinate them for long periods where they have a short attention with other things you may feel are more important.  Try looking at the world from their perspective and you never know you may find more joy in your life….Caroline

Social Skills and Self-Esteem: Nine Strategies to Help Your Kids See Their Greatness

By

Some kids and adults need clear information about the strengths and talents you know they have. This is especially true for children and many adults who have Asperger Syndrome, Autism, or ADHD. They may need to get their knowledge about where they shine, in a more direct way than you have been communicating so far. This knowledge is the nourishment of a healthy self-image.

Here are ten strategies to help your challenging loved ones to believe in themselves:

1. Give them a mental picture so they can ‘see’ what you mean. Instead of “That is a great story!” try something like: “The characters in your story seem like real people.”

2. Be sincere and specific. ‘Very good!’ is very good to say but when you can, compliment the action. “You are a whiz at finishing puzzles.” “You really know how to swing a bat.”

3. Compliment ‘in the moment’. Don’t wait. Tell her now so she makes the connection between a positive behavior and the good feeling of praise.

4. Be on the watch for unrecognized strengths. You may be overlooking some subtle but nonetheless strong qualities in your child. Think creatively and you will find them! If your teen avoids friends who do drugs, alcohol or smoke, he has good judgment. If she plays chess, she has good analytic skills, if he connects easily with people he is a good conversationalist. If she is involved in sports, she is a ‘team player.’ You can use these qualities as springboards to build more.

5. Help your child keep his weaknesses and ‘failures’ in perspective. Point out real life situations to illustrate that “everyone makes mistakes” and “everyone is learning all the time”. Find stories about famous people who worked around their limitations to become famous inventors, artists and authors. Continue reading “Social Skills and Self-Esteem: Nine Strategies to Help Your Kids See Their Greatness By Ellen Mossman-Glazer”

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”