For several months, I’ve felt the urge to say that I am unbelievably grateful to work with your families. Seriously. The deeply personal stories parents have shared with me about their incredible children, their challenges, or hardships are inspiring. Thank you for sharing with me and for trusting me to encourage and celebrate your children in a creative, safe space. Sure, I want the “client”/you to be happy with the “product”, but I care deeply that your children feel Disney World level creative support and compassion in my studio. So, here’s the bottom line: no matter the disability, hardship, or challenges, I will listen, if they feel they want to communicate (verbal or non-verbal). I will follow their lead. What’s left on the canvas is such a representation of the child(ren). I’m just so honored to be a part of it all.
I often stand back and watch them draw in the beginning. It's how I get to know their art personality, how the sibling dynamics are, and calm any nervous parent down chit chatting with them. Sure, I'm an artist. I'm just not the most important artist in the room. They are! I want to take their lead and like most brilliant teaching techniques, make them think it's their idea to try a new way:) So, I turn my back on them. I don't want them feeling like I am watching them. Go wild! She's not even looking- ha!
I can talk...a lot. I make a point NOT to always be the one talking when children are around. I need to watch their body language, predict their next move, make eye contact, and really listen to what they are trying to say. I never want a parent to feel like they have to speak for their child. I will wait. I will take the time to let them process and communicate- however they choose to communicate. So, parents, take a deep breath. Your children are incredible. You know that, and I'm honored to be a part of their creative adventure.
For what it's worth, I've been on the other end of evaluations my kid has bombed with words like "severe" and "delay" striking like daggers on the paper (well, email, which kind of makes it worse). Followed up with a "Let me know if you have any questions!". Those moments are hard and the work that goes into supporting your child is equally rewarding and downright exhausting. But, then there are those other moments. The more frequent ones, where your kid totally surprises you or gives that eval the middle finger that would never happen with a standardized test or in a therapy session. THAT, my friends, is what unloads and evolves on the canvas.
So, for whoever needs to hear it. You're a rockstar. My studio may look wild and crazy with paint everywhere, but I will take the time to slow down and focus on your child's personality, needs, and creative flow.