‘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

 

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

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 dcmsoneill@bell.net

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, http://www.muskokaonline.com/HuntersBayRadio

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.

Caroline

CreativeArtAdventuresPainting

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

'The Autism Project' in the Toronto Star this week November 10 – 18th

Caroline’s commentary:

This week The Toronto Star publishes a series of articles called ‘The Autism Project” which you can read online at www.thestar.com

American research now shows 1 in 88 children — 1 in 54 boys — is diagnosed with autism. The rising numbers mean it is impossible for teachers to go their entire career without autistic children in the class.

Five years ago, 7,000 Ontario public schoolchildren were identified as autistic. Today, that number has more than doubled. The Toronto District School Board, Canada’s largest, estimates 1 in 88, or close to 3,000, is on the autism spectrum. The Durham District School Board puts their number at 1 in 75.

Canadian children, on average, are not diagnosed until age 4, after many have already started school. That means the majority of those kids will still not have received therapy.

Yet there is no mandatory teacher training in autism, or special education for regular classroom teachers. Teachers can take an elective course in university, or take extra courses once they start their careers, but they pay for those and take them on their own time.

Isabel Killoran, a professor at York University’s Faculty of Education and former special education teacher, says a teacher’s greatest challenge is that “no two children with autism are the same.”

She teaches a 36-hour course in special education, helping teachers learn common strategies that can help in class, depending on the child’s needs.

Children with autism think and learn differently. They need organization and structure, lessons in social skills and how to manage stress; they don’t tolerate a lot of noise and distractions.

Killoran’s big message though: behaviour is communication.

“It’s our job to be detective and figure out what’s triggering the behaviour. A lot of time it is something that’s environmental, something happening in the classroom.”

All school boards have an autism resource team — special education teachers, psychologists, speech language pathologists — to provide support to schools, but even school officials recognize it isn’t enough.

The Durham board launched its own autism training centre for teachers. It instructs them in how to set up a classroom to minimize distraction, how to use visual schedules so children with autism know what to expect, and how to anticipate an autistic child’s unruly behaviour. The program already has a waiting list.

Says Doug Crichton, the board’s superintendent of special education: “We’re working on the premise that in almost every classroom, certainly in every school, we’re going to have children with autism.” Continue reading “'The Autism Project' in the Toronto Star this week November 10 – 18th”

'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

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”