During this week’s creative practice, I found the resource from the VSA Florida website entitled “The Intersection of Arts Education and Special Education: Exemplary Programs and Approaches” to be so helpful in the adaptation of an art program for teens who have mixed physical abilities. I have students with disabilities in my current classes, so this is a resource that will definitely be of much help. Modifying art lessons based on needs is something that I have a little bit of experience with considering I taught an entirely ID, Special Education Middle School class last year. I had students with varying levels of disabilities, so I was always modifying art projects based on their different needs. I had a student that had limited movement in his hands and wasn’t able to control them well so when he was drawing or painting, I always had him working on a bigger surface area (bigger paper). I modified regular scissors, so that they had bigger handles so he was able to grasp them better, with my help. It is important to get to know the specific needs of the students (in this case, the patients) that you are working with so you can accommodate accordingly.
“Yes, there are basic ways to work with materials, but if a student cannot use them in “traditional ways,” alternative methods may help.” (Loesl, 2012). Loesl also broke a modified lesson down into three parts: the tools used, the media used and the techniques needed to complete the activity. For this creative practice, I took all three of those aspects into consideration. First off, I considered the fact that some patients may be in wheelchairs. In this case, I would use a tabletop easel but because I didn’t have access to one during this activity, I used a slanted drawing board, propped up against my desk to create an angle easier for the patient to work on.
Second, I created my own form of a Universal Cuff, in order to accommodate patients who cannot properly grasp a drawing tool. I used 24 x 18 paper, in order to keep the surface area larger. I decided to use watercolor pencils because it incorporates two different mediums, drawing and then painting. This way, the pencils marks don’t have to be condensed and it turns into a media that can be loose and interesting to work with.
Having solely used my makeshift Universal Cuff whilst gripping the watercolor pencils, as well as the paintbrush, I found it quite difficult. Having the larger surface area did make it easier. Smaller detail was quite hard due to the fact that I kept fingers completely still and wrists locked. I found that this piece took me longer than it normally would as well, considering I had to concentrate on getting the detail correct.
My final outcome was abstract. I find that sometimes it’s beneficial to focus on the use of the materials and how colors interact together on a page rather than focus on a drawing subject. I find working abstractly rather than realistically to be very therapeutic because I am not constantly trying so hard to get details correct. Abstract painting and drawing gives a sense of calmness and focus on solely process.
Materials Used: Watercolor paper, watercolor pencils, water cup, water, masking tape, drawing board
Loesl, Susan D. (2012). The Intersection of Arts Education and Special Education: Exemplary Programs and Approaches. VSA, The International Organization on Arts and Disability.