ART AND DISABILITY

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This is titled self portrait. Doesn’t it look like he’s dancing?

Since my last post was somewhat of a rant, I thought I would post something that has been so positive for my son and our family.  Darling Boy goes to a school for children with multiple disabilities. All the students are in wheelchairs and have some degree of medical need.  It is both a day school and a residential placement. Students come from several different states to attend the school. It’s been in existence since the 1880’s and is on the cutting edge of how to use assistive technology.   The staff at the school has a dedication to these students that’s incredibly amazing.  They assume that these kids have something to say and do everything in their power to get it out of them.

These students also communicate through different forms of art: music, dance, theater and art.  Last year, Darling Boy got to participate in a play that was a collaboration between his school and a private school for typical kids.   It started 30 years ago when the private school teacher heard her students use the word retarded in a disparaging manner. She wanted her students to understand and be exposed to children with differences and that was the beginning of  working on plays that involved students from both schools.  The students from each school were partners in the play and so a beautiful tradition was born. You can see a webpage from his school that includes video on the play and art exhibition here. Scroll to the bottom of the page to get to the videos.

D.B. also has an art teacher who believes that everyone can do art.   She comes up with different ways that the students can use paint and make sculptures.  Her philosophy is to create art using what the student can do. Anything from putting a brush on a hat that to having them use their feet to paint, she gets them all to create beautiful art.  She says that each of her students are abstract expressionists.

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I have one of Danny’s art pieces hanging in my office: when I show it to students they find it hard to believe that someone who can’t move well did it.  As soon as I got his paintings home this year, I hung them around the house.  It makes me so happy to see his artwork hanging up. It’s something that he made with the help of his art teacher but it’s his expression. Danny uses his feet to paint because he doesn’t have great functional use of his hands.

Darling Boy doesn’t have many ways to communicate and interact with the world.  He is learning more about the world through the art programs at his school.  He has always enjoyed music but his new ability to express himself through painting is amazing.  My son comes from a family of artists; both his great uncle and uncle  went to art school.  My husband is quite handy with a pencil and my daughters each have an artistic flair.  (drawing manga characters is a big thing with the younger ones)  Since Darling Boy has been enrolled in his school, he’s now showing us that he inherited the artsy genes too.

I hope you’ve enjoyed viewing the video and seeing some of his art work.

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