There are so many things I love about blogging, hearing good news alongside inspiring stories of success from my readers, has to be the ultimate highlight to blogging.
Last week, I got my kicks of happiness, when I received an email from reader and teacher, ‘Joanne’
Joanne contacted me and asked if I was happy to upload some art work to the, ‘Autism & Art’ Page, here on the blog. The art was created by pupils with Autism and Severe Learning Difficulties who attend a unit for children with autism and SEN (special educational needs) that forms part of the mainstream school, “Evergreen” Most of the children at the unit are non-verbal but are very expressive when it comes to art. The children’s artwork has been created on computer with the use of free art software packages, which Joanne has been kind enough to share (this can be found later on in this post).
Of course, I informed Joanne that it would be an honour to feature the children’s fabulous artwork on the blogs Art page, however, while chatting with Joanne, I felt inspired to write a post to show the world how talented these budding little artist are!
Yes, they really are some talented lot, and it’s not just me, Joanne or the rest of the staff at Evergreen Primary school, who think so!
The pupils were nominated for the Northern grid awards (ICT In Education Awards) where their work has been widely showcased and celebrated as a result.
The Northern Grid Awards recognise and celebrate the excellent practice happening in North East Schools. The pupils at Evergreen, were actually Highly Commended in the “Surprise me” category. This was for an activity that was actually formed to support literacy for the KS1 class. The presentation began as a teacher made resources to present the story, ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ to pupils. The pupils were then involved with developing the presentation into their own, ‘Bear Hunt’ story through their interaction with the story props and resources. Seriously guys, check it out on the site hosting the awards, the teachers and parents of these pupils must be beaming with pride!
Joanne is a lady who is very passionate about her work and she has a great fondness for those she teaches. She told me that, “Most of the children are non-verbal but can actually teach me a thing or two!” It’s refreshing to see teachers and teaching assistants, so passionate about what they do, I really love that, it’s something so simple but for a mother of a child on the spectrum, it’s something you are truly grateful to find.
Joanne’s role with the children is to create creative & sensory friendly learning experiences and her success shines through within the children’s beautiful, yet talented work. She talked about the way the children use computers to create and learn and like myself and many other parents, she really understood the importance of using ICT as a resource for children with autism, both in education and within their everyday lives.
It’s my belief that children and adults on the spectrum, have an amazing way about them when given a computer. A child that is branded a menace due to their refusal to participate in written work can then excel if put in-front of a computer. When I went to view Little man’s work at a past parents evening, at his old mainstream school, they didn’t have a single exercise book to show me! The only work they had to display was all done with the use of a PC. Little man has fine motor skills difficulties and like many children on the spectrum his handwriting took the force of this. Little man is extremely aware off these difficulties and the fact he is often considered less able within certain areas of his learning (despite his intelligence). He is overly proud and he would rather not engage at all if it meant that by doing so, It would only portray him as some kind of “failure”. Its my opinion that every child with autism as-well as those children with other communication difficulties, should be able to express themselves with the use of ICT, by way of having regular access to a computer. Now, I’m not stating we should give up, stop encouraging them to engage with written work, not at all! I’m just stating that expression is important especially for non-verbal children like those whom Joanne teaches.
Here’s the wonderful creations of art, that will feature on the Autism and Art page.
Wow, I think they are simply wonderful!
Joanne was kind enough to share the resources that herself and the teaching team regularly use with the children in the unit. All resources are ICT packages that are used to create different types of art. What is so awesome about these resources, are… amazingly all are “FREE!” meaning you can use these with your child at home.
Sumo paint: A free piece of software introduced to Joanne by one of her pupils. Sumo paint has a complicated yet detailed set of features. Greater colour and texture options, fine detailing, filters, layers, and effects. Here you will be presented with endless possibilities.
Art pad: An online canvas with basic tools, its appeal to it’s users is that you can re-play you’re painting to watch your creation take shape; you can also email a finished painting.
Cbeebies: Cbeebies have a fantastic selection of activities with characters that appeal to Joanne’s pupils’ interests. Programmes such as Mr maker and Get Squiggling, have magic paint-box activities.
Help kidz learn: Free online games from the guys at inclusive technology with its own creative section.
Create Comics: Create your own comic strip Joanna’s pupils like Garfield, DR Who and Marvel comics.
Audactiy: a piece of kit that can be used to record voices, sound effects, music etc… and can also be used in developing resources. (Free downloads)
Having obtained these from Joanne, I discovered there was only one or two I have used before (Cbeebies, Help Kidz Learn). So, I tried the rest with both Little man and Alice.
Little man enjoys art on a much greater scale when It’s created with the use of a computer. He loved Sumo Paint and has used it for the last three days.
Alice is very creative and like me she has a passion for Art. Though she loves the more practical aspects of art, she also had great fun with this.
I love the comic strips and find the software an invaluable tool for children with autism. These comics can be used to build social stories together which your child. The Comic strips you make, can also be used to help a child with autism to communicate perspectives, feelings and more. All this while remaining fun and creative.
A massive thank you to Joanne and her wonderful pupils at Evergreen Primary school’s unit for children with autism. Check out the Class website by ClickingHERE (please note… there is also a special members only section for parents of the pupils whom attend the unit).
Disclaimer: Please note that the above images are the property of Evergreen Primary school and should not be copied without the permission of its owner. The images are subject to copyrite and all terms apply.
If you are interested in the story or want to find out more, then please leave your details, and I’ll be sure that Joanne gets them.