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art & crafts for severely disabled

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KingBrilliant 22 May 02 - 03:13 AM
Mr Happy 22 May 02 - 04:00 AM
KingBrilliant 22 May 02 - 04:23 AM
Llanfair 22 May 02 - 07:20 AM
KingBrilliant 22 May 02 - 08:00 AM
catspaw49 22 May 02 - 08:46 AM
KingBrilliant 22 May 02 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,DonMeixner 22 May 02 - 10:40 AM
wysiwyg 22 May 02 - 11:38 AM
CapriUni 22 May 02 - 11:40 AM
Don Firth 22 May 02 - 01:26 PM
Llanfair 22 May 02 - 02:35 PM
Mr Happy 23 May 02 - 11:15 AM
CapriUni 23 May 02 - 12:12 PM
Mr Happy 23 May 02 - 12:31 PM
CapriUni 23 May 02 - 12:59 PM
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Subject: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 22 May 02 - 03:13 AM

Hi all
A friend of mine has started a part time job teaching Art to severely disabled adults.
These are people who have both physical and mental disabilities, and who are capable of only very limited communication with her.
Her employers don't seem to be able to give her much guidance on what her students are capable of or might want to do. She has some experience of teaching Art as therapy, but from a quite different perspective.
She asked me to see whether there is any info available on the internet that might give her some ideas etc.
I'm sure there are mudcatters that can point me in some useful directions.
So if you know of any useful sources of information or links - or if you have any experience in this sort of area - or even any general advice - I'd be very grateful & will pass the info on.

Cheers

KRis


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: Mr Happy
Date: 22 May 02 - 04:00 AM

until i retired, i'd worked for many years with adults with learning disabilities

i also gained experience with people with mental health probs., & with children and teenagers

i found that in order to create a relaxed and unthreatening environment for service users was to have soothing music on in the background, usually classical or folk

also, many people enjoy singing so i'd frequently play guitar or chord organ to accompany our singing

even the most profoundly disabled can be enabled to participate in almost all activities, given approprite assistance- helping them to do it- not doing it for them

i could go on for a long time on this topic

hope this is useful

if your friend has any specific questions about art 'n craft activities, don't hesitate to mail again

cheers

mr happy


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 22 May 02 - 04:23 AM

Thanks Mr Happy
I'll pass on that info. I think what she needs most is inspiration as to what activities to do, and perhaps some examples of what appropriate assistance would be.

KRis


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: Llanfair
Date: 22 May 02 - 07:20 AM

Hiya, how,s it going? I haven't seen you for ages!!!

If your friend would like to contact me...PM for the phone number......I would probably be able to help. I trained as an Occupational Therapist, and spent nearly 30 years working with this client group, enabling them to be creative in all kinds of ways. I can advise on how to make equipment to help people use various kinds of materials, and some crafts that easily give great results.

Talk to you soon,

Cheers, Bron.


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 22 May 02 - 08:00 AM

Cheers Bron - will PM you.

Kris


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: catspaw49
Date: 22 May 02 - 08:46 AM

PM coming your way....Sister Connie is an experienced Activity Therapist especially with the severely disabled.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 22 May 02 - 08:57 AM

Cheers Spaw!

KRis


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 22 May 02 - 10:40 AM

Hi King,

I design and build special equpment for people with disabilities. PM me if you need a brainstorm in the area of assisstive technology as an aid to your work.

Don


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: wysiwyg
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:38 AM

I'm sorry I no longer have the bookmarks from when our daughter explored Art Therapy as a career (and college major) last year, but the following summarizes what we learned.

Art Therapy is now a certified spcialty course, and one at least one university presents it as a Master's degree program. It seems to have sort of followed in the footsteps of Music Therapy.

The mix of preparatory classes varies somewhat from place to place, but it's a mix of psychology and the visual arts, with a variety of media in the arts section. You take a major in one and a minor in the other, as I recall. It's a heavy load. I believe you can take either as your major, and the other as the minor, but by the time you are accepted in a certification program four years after you start out planning your college work, you may find that a different mix is wanted. So it's smart to have an idea where you want to do the certification, and plan coursework accordingly.

I would expect art therapy for the disabled to be a subspecialty of an art therapy certification, probably not certified on its own but with some extra coursework aiming it in that direction. There is an art therapy association where you could find out more. Do a web search on Art Therapy and you will find that and see some stuff that may help your friend. It sounds like she's after a triple specialty-- art therapy, occupational therapy, and activities director.

I believe Mudcatter Night Owl may have some experience that would relate-- she's not always here tho, so maybe PM her?

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: CapriUni
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:40 AM

Brava to your friend!

I, personally, am not severly disabled, but being moderately so, I've met those who are (whenever I attend events or facilities aimed at serving the disabled, I meet folks with a wide range of abilities).

Unfortunately, folks with communication diffeculties are often not treated as "complete" people; because they can't make their feelings and observations known, they're often treated like they don't have any. That the staff who work these people can't tell your friend the kinds of things they need strikes me as sad evidence of this.

Therefore, arts and crafts are doubly, maybe even triply, important. Those who have trouble communicating verbally can communicate in other ways and make their inner lives known, perhaps for the first time. Since I don't know the range of physical abilities of these folks, I can't give any advice on the technical side.

But I'll just say this: The most important thing is Attitude. Help these folks work with the materials and media as independently as they can, and then give them the room to express themselves freely -- just as if you were teaching a "regular" arts & and crafts class -- don't let the label "severely disabled" throw you. So, even though some of them may have the mental capacity of a 2 year old, it shouldn't really matter... two year olds are still capable of creating their own art.

And regarding the label of "mentally disablied": I have personally seen some very bright people given that label, if not by the medical professionals, then by the lay people who work with them, because of the person's diffeculty with communication (where a physical diffeculty in the words out is confused with an inability to understand the words). And if that label is given in childhood, then it can be a self-fulfilling prophacy -- I, myself, would have been labeled "retarded" when I was 2, if my mother hadn't refused to be intimidated by the hospital psychologist.

So I repeat:

Brava to your friend!


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: Don Firth
Date: 22 May 02 - 01:26 PM

CapriUni, good points!

People with severe disabilities — another viewpoint:—

I had polio when I was two years old and have had to walk with canes or crutches and a leg brace all my life. About twelve years ago I had to take to a wheelchair. Despite this, I've had a pretty rich, full life (far from over yet!), including spending a lot of time on stage or generally up in front of people singing and playing the guitar. In fact, I made my living that way for better than ten years during the Fifties and Sixties.

Before I started singing in public, I became aware that there were people who, when meeting me for the first time, seemed to jump to the conclusion that because my legs didn't work, my mind didn't either. Now that I'm in a wheelchair, this sort of thing has intensified. Since my shoulders are shot (walking for decades with crutches can do that), my wife Barbara pushes me if we have to go any distance. I'm amazed by the number of people who, when we meet for the first time, will talk to Barbara, but will not address me directly. They will ask questions such as "How long has your husband been like that?" as if I'm oblivious—an object—not even there. Barbara's response to this is a cool, "Why don't you ask him?" (I do seem to be able to talk okay. After all, in addition to singing, I worked as a radio announcer and newscaster for about eight years.)

A friend (I first met him when he came to me for guitar lessons) told me, "I first heard about you from someone who told me that you were singing a folk concert at the Granada Theater and that if I liked in folk music, I should go and hear you. He talked a lot about you—but I was surprised when I saw you walk out on stage on crutches, with someone else carrying your guitar for you. All he talked about was your singing. It never occurred to him to mentioned that you walked with crutches!" He and I had palled around together for a couple of years before he told me this. He went on to say, "It didn't take me long to accept the idea of the crutches. You're a busy guy and you seem to get around okay, and you seem to be able to do just about anything you want, so I have a hard time thinking of you as 'handicapped.' Hell, I wear glasses, you use crutches, and that's about all there is to it!" One of the things that made Loren a good friend was that he saw me pretty much the way I saw myself.

When I was in a hospital in Denver in the mid-Fifties undergoing intensive physical therapy, I met a young man with cerebral palsy. He could not control most of the movements of his body and his speech was very difficult to understand. But once I took the time to listen carefully to him and figure out what he was saying, I learned that he was sharp and fully aware. He had a fine, quick mind. But it was trapped in a body that didn't work very well. Looking back on it now, he puts me in mind of Stephen Hawking.

I would suggest that when you meet someone who is severely disabled, if you begin with the attitude that they are a whole person and hold assumptions in abeyance, you will learn fairly quickly what they can't do. But you will also learn that there are a surprising number of things that they can do!

Anybody see the series I, Claudius on PBS some years back? Some historians think that Claudius (played brilliantly by Derek Jacobi) had had polio, but from the symptoms described, it sounds more like cerebral palsy. Most people took it for granted that Claudius was the court idiot. Had he not been part of the family of Caesar Augustus, he would have been "exposed," i.e., just dumped somewhere to die, which was the practice in those days. Then, after the assassination of Caligula, Claudius was made emperor—as a joke! First horrified at the prospect, he decides to take it seriously and calls his court together. He tells them, "There are those who say that I am hard of hearing. But this is not through want of listening. There are those who say that I stammer. But I have always thought that what a man says is more important than how he says it. And there are those who say that I am half-witted. Yet, with half my wits, I am still alive, while many of those around me who had all of theirs are now dead!"

Just a few random thoughts on a Wednesday morning.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: Llanfair
Date: 22 May 02 - 02:35 PM

I spent a lot of my working life helping people with learning disabilities to communicate, and to use their communication skills to get what they wanted. The starting point was to teach my staff group to listen and watch to establish interaction, no mean feat in Day Centres in the '70's and '80's where the staff/service user ratio was 1/12!!!!

A book I found useful to gain some insight into the lives of people with CP and the changes that have happened in the UK over the last 30 years is "The Scallagrigg" by William Horwood, the chap who wrote the Duncton Wood books. It is a remarkable book, with incredible insight, a stormin' story, and a two boxes of tissues ending.

People with disabilities have had a very tough time at the hands of social services and other organisations. People like me, unfortunately, have fallen by the wayside, unable to fight the red tape any longer, and unable to convince the powers that be that the only REAL resources are well trained and experienced people, not fancy special buildings.

Sorry, this is a Hobby Horse of mine. I suppose the feelings of failure will never go away.............

Cheers, Bron.


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: Mr Happy
Date: 23 May 02 - 11:15 AM

llanfair,

hear,hear

agree absolutely, i've been there myself- depressing isn't it?

but even though i'm not in that field any more, i wish kb's friend well in her career its a very fine one & most rewarding [spiritually if not economically] when you look back and remember how people were enabled to do & experience all sorts of things that 'the powers that be' would never have imagined them capable of doing.

as capri uni has already said, some of the most important things to remember are not to make assumptions about anybody's abilities and they should be consulted about activities and so on


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 May 02 - 12:12 PM

Regarding labels, I thought a little personal history might be helpful, especially since as these are adult clients they might have through the "system" I would have done, if I hadn't had parents that made damned sure I didn't.

I have CP, and back in the '60's mental retardation was considered the norm, rather than the exception for this condition. So when I was 2, the hospital asked my parents to bring me in for psychological testng.

We were all three in the waiting room, my parents were seated facing the door, and I was seated facing them, and we were all engaged in a conversation. Then the nurse came in, said hello to my parents, grabbed hold of the back of my stroller, and, without saying a single word to me, spun me around wheeled me into another room, where a psychologist came in and started asking me questions, and asking me to do things with blocks, and such.

Now, at two, I was still shy of strangers, had no idea why I was there, or who this person was, and so I just sat there, and didn't do anything. Well, the doctor was very concerned and called my mother in, ready to break the news to my mother that I was severely retarded.

My mother was furious at how the nurse had treated me, and so to keep herself from going off on a tyrade, decided that she would only answer the doctor's questions with "Yes," "No," or "I don't know". She came in, sat down next to me and smiled at me.

Well, with Mom there, I was instantly at ease, so when the doctor asked me the questions over again, to show her how really slow I was, I answered all of them perfectly.

The doctor took "retarded" off my diagnosis, but he wrote that she was "Hostile and manipulative" (hostile to him, and manipulative of me, because I would only perform in her presence).

I go a little icy inside when I think what my fate might have been if my parents (my mother especially) had been cowed by the "expert" diagnosis that I was severely retarded, if, instead of insisting that I be mainstreamed in school from kindergarten on (and this was decades before ADA and IDEA [Individuals with Disabilities Education Act]), they agreed that it would be best if that I go to a "special" school with "children of my own kind" where kids are lumped together regardless of their mental capacity.

She had to make that fight twice, btw. When I graduated from 6th grade, the public school wanted to put me in such a "special program" because the high school building was even less accessible than the elementary building had been. That's when my parents decided to send me to private school instead (as Mom said to me at the time, she told the school officials that I get a "d" in balance, but an "a" in intellect, and she wasn't going to sacrifice that).

(Years later, my mother went back to that public school for a community meeting of some sort. The walls were covered with art work by students from kindergarten through high school -- and it was all exactly alike. When the principal [I think it was] said: "Ann can come back now, because our high school is accessible!" my mom declined the offer ;-))


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: Mr Happy
Date: 23 May 02 - 12:31 PM

capri,

thanks for all your input so far.

your last one reminded me of a day centre i worked in liverpool.

a VIP was going to be visiting, so there was a great bustling amount of activity going on. staff 'n service users were got busy making all sorts of art 'n craft 'exhibits'

when the visitor came, all the artwork which had been done by staff was presented s though it had been done by su's

makes me mad, the hypocrisy


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Subject: RE: Help: art & crafts for severely disabled
From: CapriUni
Date: 23 May 02 - 12:59 PM

Holy Moly! Mr. Haapy! Boy, is that a way to make a kid feel silenced...


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