“I think we want our kids to grow up to be people who can think outside of the box, be creative and innovators, sort of the forward-thinkers of our future. I think a way to inspire that is through art and music.” – Angela Kinsey
I had enrolled in a program to explore the therapeutic aspects of the arts early this year. I was drawn to explore this stream because of the impressive reports that were published and acknowledged in several clinical situations. My conviction was that I should experience and understand the transformative power (of music, theatre, movement and art) myself before offering it to others in my work. I got to spend time exploring the uses of sound, music, art, craftwork, dance and drama for my own personal growth and transformation. Experiencing the arts in these ways has deepened my understanding of my clinical work and changed my relationship to the arts permanently. I really, really want to share the insight I have gained and why, after years of sceptical judgement, I have come to happily acknowledge their contribution to healing.
One belief I have always strongly held on to is that our childhood contributes immensely to our personality. As we grow into the teens several pressures come in and sort of rush us into adulthood. After that we are somehow expected to be “mature”. We are called successful if we “perform” and “conform” and most of us do it. But those doubts, fears, insecurities, disappointments, discouragements …they are all working on our unconscious and play a huge role shaping our behaviour, our relationships and the legacy we leave behind to our children.
When we work with exceptional children and those who are sick for prolonged periods of time our focus is so much on the treatment of their physical health condition that we sideline the needs of childhood. Adolescence and accommodation to adult life is very agonising for them too. To me, independence and life skills are more than knowing activities of daily living, and therapy for an exceptional individual is incomplete unless we show them ways to express themselves.
I think we all want to be the best and give our kids the best as parents but crisis can come in any form. Even those of us who claim to be “informed” have moments when we feel cut off from our children and find ourselves clueless about how to reach out to them. Parents and caregivers of exceptional children do feel drained and overwhelmed often because they cannot understand the child’s inner world. Responses to difficulty are individualised and dependant on the developmental age. For instance the need to try things independently prevails in the toddler years while competition in school activity is significant in the later years. A child with delayed development will respond according to his intellectual age. Children with autism will react to the world as they see it.