Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Artistic and Autistic

Aid for Abby
by @schulmanArt.

Abby and her therapy dog Buster
SchulmanArt: I was very touched to learn that all the creations in your shop are to raise money for therapies for your autistic daughter and many of the creations are made by her as well. What gave you the idea to start selling your crafts on etsy?

Bonnie Blair:I was looking for a way in which to keep Abby in therapies. The majority of my disability check goes to pay for Abby's care and treatment. I had already given up a house, car and possessions to decrease as much as possible the outgoing funds towards those items to be able to manage the majority of Abby's care. Abby has private insurance but because of her diagnosis, they would not pay for a lot of her care and treatment. My sister thought I should try selling online. It probably took me a good year before I finally decided to open up a shop. We have been selling for one year this March 2012.

SchulmanArt: Did you study art?  
Buy Art in etsy shop Aid for Abby
Bonnie: Abby and I have had no formal training in art. Abby has been painting since she was three years old so it only seemed natural that we would offer her original paintings for sale. I come from a family of textile artists (i.e. crochet, cross-stitch, sewing, quilting) so I do not have any formal training in paper crafting.

SchulmanArt: How does she get her ideas for designs?
Bonnie: Abby is not completely verbal so I can't really say where she gets her inspiration for her designs from. What I can say is that Abby has a unique method of getting ready to paint. She will rub the back of her hand against the paper or canvas and sit for about 10 minutes before ever touching the paint. Once she does start to paint, she paints fairly quickly. I am inspired in paper crafting by the many websites out there featuring tutorials and designers works.

The most popular item for sale in our shop is the paintings. Each painting is different and unique and I believe we have a wide range of art in which everyone could fall in love with something in our store.

You can like their Facebook Fan Page Abby and Buster
SchulmanArt: How do you find time to market the art on the internet while caring for a special needs child and also finding time to be creative? Are you able to make time for yourself?
Bonnie:  I have plenty of time to market and promote handmade items while Abby is either at school, at her therapies or in the evening after she has gone to bed. The creative aspect is always there for both of us. I believe it comes natural to us. As far as making time for myself, on those rare occasions, I like to read.

SchulmanArt: I understand that you are living with friends, how to create a place to make your creations?
Bonnie: Creating a place to be creative is a challenge at times. The kitchen table is the only area that provides adequate lighting and a firm surface. Our supplies are kept in plastic bins and these are brought in from the garage to unload on the table and then placed back for storage after the creative process. It's not an ideal situation but one that works for the time being.

SchulmanArt: How do you use treasury making to teach Abby language and communication skills?
Bonnie: I use what is called the "sabotage method" when we sit together and create treasuries. For instance, we can be looking at different earrings online and trying to decide which ones to put into a treasury. I will ask Abby "which one, this one or that one?" This forces Abby to communicate by either saying "this one" or "that one". The same questions can be asked regarding color (what color should we use in a treasury, green or blue?), days of the week (which day should we do earrings? Tuesday or Wednesday?), etc. I have built upon this method over the years and am proud to say that Abby has a growing vocabulary. I also believe that our time together has demonstrated to Abby that she can express her own preferences for items instead of just having someone pick them for her. It's been a great learning experience for both of us.

Abby and her mother Bonnie Blair
SchulmanArt: What would you want to say to other parents who have children with special needs?
Bonnie: Never give up! Look at the ability of your child rather than the disability. This isn't a situation where once you see a child with a disability, then you have seen all children who have disabilities. Each child is unique. See your child for the individual that they are. Go with your gut instinct. If you feel that a particular program or therapy doesn't work for your child, go on to the next one that you would like to try. Special needs children are not a one size fits all. You are the biggest advocate for your child. Join a local support group. Getting together with those who know what you are going thru and have been there is very comforting. You gain experience and knowledge by sharing with one another. Love your child!

Bonnie and Abby are dependent on donations of craft supplies.
please send supplies (paper, scrapbooking materials, stickers, paint, etc.)  to:

Abby Ramirez
P. O. Box 4176
Independence, MO  64051

Cash donations via payPal may be sent to:  etsycents@gmail.com
mentioned in this article @Busterthebeagle, @schulmanArt