Monday, December 31, 2007

Autism and Art

I saw this article on the Etsy newsletter “The Storque” about this girl, Siobhan, who has autism. It touched me not only because of my love of painting and art, but because Siobhan reminds me so much of A*, the 5-year-old girl I work with as a 1:1 aide at an area elementary school. When I read the paragraph of this article where the mother is describing Siobahn, it sounded almost exactly like A.

"Siobhan was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 2 and a half . She is relatively non-verbal, and soon after her diagnosis, she began to eat only dry crunchy foods. She has a fit in the bath tub when it’s time for soap and shampoo. She screams if the family dog licks her hand. Basically, my daughter cannot stand to touch or even come in contact with anything wet, slimy or squishy.
We started painting with a brush as a form of “art therapy” to try to get her used to different textures, and possibly to start trying new foods. At first, Siobhan would only use a brush, and any paint that got on her hands had to be wiped off immediately. We went on like this for some time, because she enjoyed the activity. One day, out of the blue, she threw her brush down on the floor & started beautifully blending the colors with her hands. I couldn’t have been any more amazed."

I checked out her website and my favorite painting is this one the mom entitled “Red Meltdown”. Too bad it’s already sold.
And though A may not be at the point Siobahn is, she recently had a similar breakthrough and finally started touching paint with her finger at school without screaming, crying, or having a meltdown.

A little background on my own story of my relationship with a girl with autism:
I started working with A about two years ago while she was 3-years-old and in preschool. First I was a classroom aide, but was with A most of the time because she wasn't "approved" for a one-on-one (1:1) aide yet, but clearly needed the constant direction and supervision a 1:1 aide provides. That summer session she was approved and I was offered the job of officially being her 1:1. I worked with her through the summer, the next school year, and the next summer. At the end of the summer session, I thought it was going to be goodbye, because she was to leave preschool and go off to Kindergarten. But the Lord obviously decided it wasn't time for me to part with this little girl yet...because it was brought to my attention that the elementary school she was going to didn't have an aide lined up for her yet. I knew she wouldn't function in kindergarten without an I went to the school district and applied for the job, letting them know of my previous experience with the same girl who was coming to their school. If she was going to a brand new school, where everything was going to be different (something children with autism have an extra hard time adjusting to) I might as well be there for her to provide a familiar face and some kind of consistancy. Of course I was hired, and have been with her through this school year, and she has been making amazing progress.
And who knows what the Lord has in store for either of these amazing little girls.
* first initial used for privacy reasons

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Crafty Christmas 2007

2008 is almost here! Then I'll actually have to be diligent in keeping up with this blog every week! Yes...every week...I'm not sure if I mentioned that I decided a while back that this blog will have to be weekly instead of daily.
But anyway...on to the crafty stuff...

My husband and I went to Cleaveland to spend Christmas with his family. We were there Sunday to Wednesday and I brought my Basket-O'-Crafts to keep myself occupied. I'm in a knitting phase right now, using the Knifty Knitter looms. I know how to knit with traditional knitting needles (I recently had my grandma teach me), but I prefer the knitting I forgot how to cast on. I worked on a baby blanket I'm going to be giving to a friend's newborn baby boy, as well as disovered a simple, easy way to make fingerless "hobo" gloves.

The yarn used on the purple ones is the "Lion Brand Homespun" yarn (my favorite kind of "specialty" yarn). The other two were "Red Heart Super Saver" yarn (my favorite kind of "normal" yarn, besides the "Caron One Pound" yarn)

My sister-in-law gave me the Red Heart yarn. She crochets (quite beautifully) and had extra skeins lying around at her house so she gave me a big gift bag of it to me. She also gave us a blanket she'd been making. She yelled at my husband that "That's NOT for you! I made that for Kira!" but I'll share it with him...he's my loving hubby and what's mine is his...even though we both know I'll be using it more.

I got my nieces hooked on the Knifty Knitter looms. They saw me using one of mine and of course wanted to try it for themselves. I wish I'd have gotten them each one of those for Christmas like I was originally thinking, but I couldn't remember if their mother knits or crochets and I didn't want to step on her toes if she wanted to teach the girls to knit herself. But, like I said before, it turns out that she crochets, and she is actually intrigued by the looms herself. I'm the cool, inspiring, uber-crafty aunt.

The girls seemed to like the clothespin doll kits, but it was hard to gauge their reaction through all the rest of the gifts and flying wrapping paper and squealing. But I'm pretty sure they liked them. The older, 12-year-old one in particular is into sewing and fashion design. She was thrilled when her grandmother (my mother in law) gave her a plastic tote full of fabric and sewing materials.

I did make one sock monster, but I gave him away the day after I made him to my brother-in-law's girlfriend's son.

I'd given his sister a sock monster the last time I was out there this past summer. She calls it her "Socky" and I'm told that she absolutely loves it and sleeps with it every night. Awwwwww!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wishing for a Crafty Christmas

SO much to little time! The only thing about crafting presents is that while it is cheaper for your wallet, it makes up for it in the time it takes. Going out and buying a present is so much easier! My new year's resolution is to start thinking about Christmas early enough to make/craft everyone's Christmas presents next year!

At least I am using the presents I'm giving to the kids in my life (church kids & my nieces) to infect them with craftyness (the good, creative kind...not the sneaky kind). I decided to make clothespin doll kits for the girls.

The kits include:

3 old style round clothespins
3 different kinds of yarn
3-4 different scraps of fabric
3 different colored pipe cleaners
1 mini bottle of glue
1 mini sewing kit
1 clothespin doll stand

I originally wanted to put the ingredients in a glass mason jar, but realized that a glass jar wouldn't be the best idea for kids, so I got $1 mini-stockings to put everything in. It was either that or those plastic take-out boxes they have at AC Moore.

At a loss for craft idea gifts for boys, I bought them foam plane making kits from JoAnne's. I know...what a cop-out. It's hard to think of manly crafty things for boys to do without parental supervision that won't leave them burned or bleeding.

I'm planning on making a Fiona "sock ogre" to give to the little autistic girl I work with, since she LOVES Shrek. We'll see how that turns out. I have the materials for it, but I need to get started soon so I can give it to her on Friday. I hope she likes it. I wonder if she'll realize who it's supposed to be.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Paper Bird Art

I randomly started doing these last night. They're just cut paper. I'm thinking of framing and giving them away as Christmas gifts.

I've also busted out the pottery wheel lately. I'll try to remember to post some pictures this week.