Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Work I Do

I ask the families I work with who are completing adoptions to send me photos of the day they complete their adoption in court. It is always a surprise for me to find an email and photo from them. It makes me grateful for the work I do. These pictures are sweet and inspiring. I got one today from a family I worked with this summer. It’s an adorable young boy looking up to his stepfather, the only father he has ever known and both are wearing ties and all dressed up. All this little boy wanted was the same last name as all of his other siblings. Now he has it. The family made him a big sign with his new name. In another image he holds it grinning ear to ear. I likes the ones with a happy ending. Send me more.

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Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) are becoming an increasingly common diagnosis in children. I came upon a website this week that discusses ASD and art therapy, www.arttherapyandautism.com .Compiled by Nicole Martin, the site has a variety of information about ASD and art therapy as well as provider information and links. Sky’s The Limit, Nicole Martin’s art studio was founded in 2007. Nicole Martin is a registered art therapist and artist living in Lawrence, KS.

Martin states that art therapy is beneficial to children with ASD due to intense sensory needs and non-verbal nature. She goes on to describe six major ASD treatment goals art therapists are best qualified to treat. They are:

1. Imagination/abstract thinking deficits

2. Sensory regulation and integration

3. Emotions/Self-expression

4. Developmental Growth

5. Recreation/Leisure skills

6. Visual-spatial deficits

More so than not everyone is seeing the benefits of non-verbal therapies for children who have ASD as well as Pervasive Developmental Disorders. I will cover that in upcoming posts. Great work Nicole.
Be Well,
Laura


Foster Care, the Bus Stop and Lost Girls

Today I was driving and slowed down at a stop light. I looked to my right and sitting there was a young girl I had worked with in foster care as her case manager and therapist. I had also provided services for her and her sister while they resided together in a foster home. I had not seen her in about four years. The last time I saw her she looked much different. She was young, maybe 15 and still had a sweet air about her. We worked with her for several years but she eventually left and was discharged to another placement, for reasons that I cannot remember.

So I rolled down my window and asked her how she was doing, as I had heard a few years ago she had runaway out of foster care and returned to her mother. Her sister had also done so. I asked, “So are you with your mother?” She told me that no, her mother was mad at her. Then I said, “How is your sister?” She said her sister was being sentenced to six months state jail on Friday.

It was a hard moment. This young girl looking at me at the bus stop was much different than the one I had known. She now looked hardened and tough and street wise. Her skin looked rough and I noticed cheap blue tattoos on her hands. I remember her sister very well too as I had worked hard to make things go right for her. But an over zealous court appointed attorney and guardian had interfered with her treatment so much that we could no longer manage the sister anymore. I know the attorney’s intentions were good, but she only wound up having her taken from our care to another and another and another placement until this sister finally ran away. Sad ending indeed with state jail sentencing on Friday

But then there’s the case of one boy I worked with from middle school to high school graduation, whose life turned out so much differently. I see him regularly at a place of business I frequent and where he works. He always updates me on how he is doing and how is new little boy is growing. He works at least two jobs and is returning to school under the tuition waiver program. What is different about this boy I don’t know. I know he was able to stay with the same foster parent for at least seven years, stayed out of trouble and played football. After he left foster care he roomed with two other former foster boys we knew , and he eventually found a girlfriend. I know he was able to join her family, who had a vested interest in him and his well being. He has a healthy extended family who love him and try to guide him. The girl at the bus stop and her sister never got this.

I think my point is that as a kid growing up in foster care, so much of your life depends on luck. Do you get a good foster parent, a good agency, a good CPS worker, a good Attorney Ad Litem, find an adoptive home? In my experience the biggest safety net for these kids is adoption by either a relative or non-relative. The care and love of an adult(s) over the long term is what I think saved the boy I just described. The young girl at the bus stop and her sister never had any luck that shined their way.

Be Well,
Laura


Deep Eddy Mural and Wanda Montemayor

Deep Eddy Mural and Mosiac

My friend and art therapist, Wanda Monteymayor, has worked long hours this past year to get ready to install this beautiful mural at Deep Eddy.

The group started this past weekend when I was out of town, but I plan to help Wanda with tile work this week. Even the Mayor Lee Leffingwell came out to help.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell at the Deep Eddy Mural

What is special for me personally is Deep Eddy was originally owned by my family (GG Grandfather), Charles Johnson, a Swedish immigrant who came to Austin seeking fortune and a better life. His original limestone home is located near the pool and initially a few of his children opened Deep Eddy as a swimming hole.
So if you have some time or inclination to help I know Wanda would welcome your talents or you if want to donate to the Friends of Deep Eddy, please do. Today Wanda is my hero.

Be well,
Laura


Military Creative Expressions in Colorado Springs

Here is a link to an article about an art therapy program in Colorado Springs with wounded vets. Program instructor Kim Nguyen, is an art therapist who developed PTSD as a child in war-torn Vietnam. She developed this program to work with vets who have PTSD and a variety of other issues. I think it’s interesting an adult child of Vietnam is now helping our soldiers.

When I read the article I remembered Gretchen Miller’s AMAZING work with vets, the Combat Paper Project. Be sure and check out her work too.


Boston MFA Dale Chihuly and my Boston visit

Chihuly

Ikebana

All I can really say is Wow. I visited friends in Boston this past weekend and stopped by the Dale Chihuly installation and exhibit, Through the Looking Glass, at the Boston MFA.

Chihuly is a glass artist with a huge shop and team in Washington state. He designs and installs large scale installations made solely of blown glass, most placed on metal armatures. None of the ojbects are lit, but when you are in their presence, you would think so. The scale of these pieces is remarkable.

Boston was great. The weather was cool and sometimes rainy, but I was able to enjoy lobster rolls, great chowder and smell Peonies. It does not get better than that. I have included a few other photos of my visit.

Vintage and Antique sewing machines in a retail window.

Peonies at the John and Abigail Adams home in Quincy, MA.

Blueberry bush in Milton, MA at the home of my friend parents.

It would not be Boston without afternoon tea.

Valerie at the George HW Bush , birth marker

My hostess Valerie was born and raised in the Boston area. I never knew til recently that George H.W. Bush, was born in her parents home on June 12, 1924. Here she is in front of the marker. I was there on June 11th!

Be well,
Laura


Lisa Kokin: An artist and self-help books

Pancea

Through my linked in groups via The Art Therapy Alliance I found out about Lisa Kokin. Lisa is a mixed media artist in California who had an exhibit where she took self help books and transformed them into art. Her pieces in a recent exhibit are beautiful. I have long been fascinated with altered books, their use and the transformative power of reworking material in art and society.
We are always looking for ways to transform ourselves, our experiences and our lives. I think Lisa Kokin found a use for all those self-help books that promise to make us better.