I haven’t written much about my autism art classes, even though I’ve been doing two sessions a week. I am enjoying them, though they are definitely a challenge, and it’s sometimes hard to know how I’m doing! Any art class is made up of individuals, but this seems even more obvious in the autism art classes. I try hard to find something for each child, something to engage each special interest, but this can be tricky. Moreover, the needs during the actual class time are sometimes such that it makes fully attending to each child individual experience impossible. I’ve given it a lot of thought to see if there is any better way of doing things, but so far I can only think to keep doing what I’m doing. And of course, it may also be that “success” in this context is going to feel different. But enough analyzing.
Last week for my 6-9 year old class, I set up a wire sculpting area. One of the kids had noticed a little wire sculpture hanging on the wall of the studio and commented on it a few times, so I thought that might interest him. A selection of wire, beads and buttons. He seemed initially quite excited that we were going to work with wire, and was engaged for about 15 minutes. After making an “alien face” he ran into some troubles with the body. (too much wire, some tangling, and just not sure how to proceed, I think) Unfortunately, we were having a bit of a “situation” in the classroom at the same time, so I wasn’t able to help him out, or he may have continued working. But that’s life.
My younger class (preschoolers) has been a bit more conventionally successful and the kids have enjoyed a range of activities. They are very busy and some move quickly from station to station and back again, but I’ve been able to tell that they are really enjoying it, which makes me happy! There is a love of all things liquid. And scissors. And feathers. And trucks in paint. Today food colouring dropped on coffee filters was all the rage. I sometimes feel a bit guilty that this is not a special art activity, more a common craft, but that fades away when I hear them exclaiming with excitement over the colours.
So, no fancy pictures, no stunning finished products – it’s an ongoing process, and I know I’m learning.