‘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.


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








Nicolas D. NicolasSettingUp

Jasmine G.









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.


'Could Singing and Music Making Be a Tool For Autism? Find Out' by Bonita Darula

Caroline’s Commentary: 

Exceptional children love to make music.  Keep it simple and fun.   A simple heart beat rhythm helps you and your child or student get connected to their center and helps the right and left hemispheres of the brain to work together. Using shakers, rattles, bells and drums or even a jar partially filled with beans or popping corn from your kitchen cupboard works just as well. You can also drum rhythm using a wooden spoon on a pot or pan. At the Tree of Life Centre for Creativity we use Earth rhythm music which helps them ground and helps them focus their attention on learning. You can make up a song for just about anything you want to teach. The autistic student loves to learn this way.  I would love to hear your experience making music with your student or child in the comment section below.

‘Could Singing and Music Making Be a Tool For Autism? Find Out’ by Bonita Darula

Singing with young children is fun and exciting for both the adult and child. One does not have to be an experienced musician to just sing and have fun.

Autistic children tend to enjoy repetitious motion and words. With singing and repeating words to music, children with autism learn to formulate words, and sounds. It helps their listening skills to relate words and sounds, to develop pictures in their brain. It also encourages them to understand rhythm, the coordination of different sounds to make music and develop motor skills.

If one is creative and chooses to make the singing have more of an impact, use visual aids that tend to stimulate their senses. Autistic children will not only hear the music, but feel and move to the rhythms, keep the beat going. It is an excellent idea to introduce musical instruments to the children. For example, tambourines, small little drum pads, that can be used with their hands or unbreakable drum sticks, small horns to learn how to blow and use their fingers to hear the pitches and sounds. Many autistic children do play the piano. There are some toy pianos that can be used or keyboards. Make it fun, be creative with visuals, instruments and rhythm. Continue reading “'Could Singing and Music Making Be a Tool For Autism? Find Out' by Bonita Darula”

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.

'The Story of the Sacred Tree'

‘The Story of the Sacred Tree’ presented at 4:30 pm Thursday 16th February, at The Bohemian Cafe & Gallery in Bracebridge.  Presented in 3 parts: the first originates from the oral storytelling tradition of the First Nations peoples which was published by the Four Worlds Development Project in 1984; the second part is based on a true event which occurred in the Queen Charlotte Islands in 1997, with a golden Sitka spruce sacred to the Haida; the final part was created by Caroline Butson in 2006 with the launching of the Tree of Life Centre for Creativity. There will be a slideshow presentation following of the student’s artwork and their unique interpretation of this legend.  Come and experience this story of myth, madness and greed for the first time presented in the Muskoka community!

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.”

Welcome Friend!

Are you feeling stressed out and drained?  Here on the Home Blog you can find free helpful resources to support you.

Do you sometimes feel the situation is hopeless? Are you worrying about your child’s future? On the Inspirational page you can find stories about individuals who have overcome the challenges of  autism including my own journey.

Do you sometimes feel you cannot connect with your autistic child or student?  I can help you reach and teach the autistic student with fun, easy creative tools. I’ll be posting my teaching experiences and creative tools in Learning.

You can easily download my new eManual ‘Simple Creative Tools for Teaching Children with Autism’ now available on the Products page.

You can find recommended books and videos in the Store page.

Hope this helps make your visit enjoyable and educational.   I welcome your comments.  Have a great visit! Let’s connect hereCaroline F. Butson

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About the New Tree of Life Centre for Creativity

The Story of the Sacred Tree

Here is this morning’s entry from my teaching journal in which I record the progress of each class.

“I felt uplifted and good about yesterday’s class – ‘Creative Art Adventures’  We all had fun learning and laughed alot as we acted out the ‘Story of the Sacred Tree’ Part 2.  The boys both wanted to be the ‘bad guy’ who tries to cut down the Tree of Life so I gave them both the opportunity by going over it a couple of times.  Evan had a wicked smile on his face as he got his chain saw going and got into the roar of the engine,  meanwhile Trevor waited for his turn trying to contain his excitement.  He was the Golden Eagle perched on top of the Tree ( Megan was the Tree of Life) who later swoops down and grazes the shoulder of the man to try to stop him from cutting down the Sacred Tree.  Madelyne wanted to be a chipmunk and she had fun scurrying around the base of the Tree.  Leela was just about everyone else switching from one to the next,  first the Elders then the Salmon,  then the Racoon, the Deer , the Wolf and finally last but not least the Rabbit.

The second time round Evan narrated the story while Trevor got to be the ‘bad guy’ he got to stamp his boots and show off his new running shoes which flashed their lights each time he stomped.  Madelyne still wanted to be the chipmunk.  Leela became the Sacred Tree while Megan got to be everyone else.  I made a video clip with my iPhone4 and everyone got to watch themselves afterwards which produced  peals of laughter.

We went outdoors and observed the fresh new growth of spring.  The old maple tree has just budding it’s new leaves.   The garden has burst forth this week with all the rain and sunshine we have had”.