I am a tried trooper to the wildly unpredictable and incredible vibrancy of growing kids. My personal familial journey continues to help grow my compassion for those who undertake a similar journey. Juggling, balancing, leaning in, self-care, improvising, creative management of crisis, tough love…these are not textbook issues for me, but very real experiences.
Professionally I have had the opportunity as a fibre arts educator in UK schools and then as a Horticultural Therapist of working with other children, not my own. From the stately and privileged of cosseted London neighbourhoods to the severely developmentally disabled children in some New York City residential hospital. The needs vary greatly, the ability to respond and adapt with good humour are key for an activity leader or a facilitator.
At NYU Langone Medical Center/Rusk Insitute of Rehabilitation, as part of a larger horticultural therapy team, I offered services to patients suffering from degenerative diseases and young victims of traumatic accidents; but also to autistic school children and independent teenaged/young adult disabled women.
I have worked in paediatric outpatient oncology, acute pediatrics and orthopedics, as well as facilitated activity groups for child epilepsy sufferers and children with cerebral palsy.
I have offered one-on-one bedside service in medically complex cases, bringing hope in the shape of a beautiful tropical plant needing compassionate care and a new pot. Asking always “will you plant with me?”
I have had the phenomenal opportunity to help create a summer camp curriculum in constraint induced movement therapy (CIMT) for hemiplegic children that follows AHA (assisting hand assessement) protocole. And even now for two weeks in the summer months, I continue to join the Horticultural Therapy team at NYU Rusk for the High-five camp. It is an honour, always, to serve.
Adaptation in the face of degenerative pathologies is my essential skill-set. Flexibility, improvisation, also the fine tuning behind modelling compensatory strategies and mirroring alternative selves are essential competencies. But I am equally experienced in group work with mainstream school children.
I have also provided psychosocial support to parents for children of all abilities. On the hospital floor and off…Because being a parent is really hard work and we mums and dads and caregivers… well sometimes need to be cheered on too, whether our kid is healthy or in recovery.
These days I work with “gifted” children attending to their unique challenges such as hypervigilence, hypersensitivity, anxiety and emotional regulation. Art therapy gives them a chance to play creatively while removing any performance pressures as such issues as perfectionism, over-excitability, introversion and identity formation are addressed.