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Monday, September 11, 2006

Differently Abled

Just back from day two at the school for the differently abled. The art work went approximately according to plan and I managed to cope - just. I find the way some of the children scream and cry as if from fear or pain very distressing.

There was the odd the smile or even laugh from others as they got to grips with rubbing the Markal crayon over the lumpy, bumpy silver fish. Crayon manipulation was a three person job. The care worker would be restraining the child's uncontrollable movements while I held the child's hand on the crayon and moved it back on forth. It was a bit like that game where you all pile your hands one on top of the other and at one point the care worker was clutching onto my wrist for grim death and holding my hand down by mistake.

The ambulant children were able to sponge paint over my seascape masks. Bizarrely the tape ripped off a lot more successfully from one end than from the other. Something to do with the nap of the paper I think. One of the boys was into the string fishing line idea and happily splashed away while it gave his buddie a screaming fit of the horrors and he stayed with the collaged fish. It was just all too messy for the third child who just can't bare his hands to be dirty.

One older autistic girl was very distressed to have been taken out of her regular class and brought to the art room. She made straight for a bottle of blue paint I had foolishly left with the top off and poured it all over the floor.

What can I tell you? It's been a HUGE learning experience for me but for now I've had to back off. This is the school my late daughter went to and part of the reason for me being there is to try and learn a bit about her. Today they told me she was happy, loved music and looked just like me which made me cry.


Gill said...

Sally, what an enormous emotional roller coaster you've been on today. I'm totally in awe of you for setting yourself this personal challenge and for seeing it so far through. So many different abilities to accommodate, moods to deal with - all the more difficult when you don't have personal knowledge of each child. You must be feeling drained tonight - creatively and emotionally. Hope there's a good bottle of red to hand and a listening ear, for I imagine you have quite a bit to offload.
Kudos to you for never taking the easy route...but for going in there and making a tremendous difference. You've given those children a very special experience, learned a little about your daughter and perhaps learned rather more about yourself?

Diane said...

The fish mobile is quite an eye-catcher. Again, I applaud your inner strength as well as your creative mind. I was briefly involved with organizing a weaving studio for a day school - I tried to train a couple of the "teachers" to thread a loom so the clients could weave. The teachers were not at all interested - the clients were excited. I often wished that they had tried to interest some enthusiastic parents to volunteer in the enterprise.

Grumpy said...

Thanks girls. Funny you should mention the loom Diane. I was talking to a teacher in a mainstream school coping with a learning disabled children struggling to weave and I was trying to think of ways to make it easier, like maybe the warp and weft different colours? I do love the challenge of adapting techniques to make them possible although the words bitten off and chew spring to mind sometimes! Your scales on the fish made all the difference to the crayon rubbings by the way.

Grumpy said...

....Didn't mean the warp and the weft - meant every other warp a different colour, so you go over the blue, under the red, that kind of thing? Sleep a bit elusive tonight, brain still on overdrive.

Diane said...

You could alternate the colors in the warp, but they would still have to learn two process - first: under red, over blue and second: over red, under blue.
Might be better to have them learn one thing. I am assuming you are working on a frame loom. Make sure there an even number of warps. No matter which side they begin on, it's always under the first one, over the second one. Then you just have to get them to begin on the side where the weft thread is exiting - or be happy with eccentric wefts across the face of the piece! Stuff happens when you teach weaving. A friend was teaching a little guy to weave and while she out of the room, he artfully incorporated all the furniture in the room into the project by *weaving* the shuttle in and out the arms of the chairs and around the legs of the tables. LOL
BTW, the looms I was teaching on were four harness floor looms and the warping process is even daunting for *regular* abled adults.
And I am so glad you had such good sucess with my suggestion.