Monday, December 22, 2008

Falling Through the Cracks
39" x 32"
 There is no perfect place for my son at school. He has Asperger's, which is a high-functioning form of autism. A regular classroom uses all his coping skills, just to be there, and attend to the overwhelming sensory input and social expectations. And the special education classes don't fit him either. So, it is no wonder that at times I feel like he is falling through the cracks of public school. Special education was created because we saw a need, we saw that kids were falling through the cracks and this was our solution. But is it working? Enter his new case worker. She is a blessing, a godsend. Hooray for the very unique and special individuals that take special care to try to catch these wonderful kids! This quilt is dedicated to her, a healing force in our family's life.

About the piece and how I made it: The top third of the quilt is a hand dye that I used for a rubbing of cracks in the street with Shiva paintsticks. The cracks are heavily machine quilted. The bottom portion was another hand dyed piece that was dyed on top of a piece of construction fencing that I found littering the driveway of my son's school. I was really amazed at how the dye migrated to the fencing and captured an image of it. The building is made from some of my batiked fabrics. The net is made from a produce bag. Copper wire is made into useful legs for our robin, and the handle for the net. Making a special appearance are some hand blown glass beads, beautiful little works of art by artist, Vickie Hallmark, who graciously donated them to my project. The buttons are the neurotypical kids, unique and special in their own right. They are sewn in rows to allude to abacuses. Ultimately, public schooling comes down to the numbers, counting kids and counting dollars decide what resources are available.
Here are some close-ups of Vickie's wonderful beads. Pardon my snapshots, they barely do them justice. If you want to see more of Vickie's work, click the link Fiber.Art.Glass.







23 comments:

Gerrie said...

I am so touched by this. We have recently found out that our grandson may have Aspergers so I now what you are dealing with. He has not had an official assessment, but all the signs are there.

This is a lovely tribute.

Stephanie said...

That's really wonderful. My son is a tricky case as well so I can really relate to your position.

LauraT said...

I know what you mean about falling through the cracks. One son born in 1980 and in 1984 found out he had a neurological aphasia processing problem and ADHD. I had to pursue through our insurance company tutoring to learn to read and he had an IEP all the way through high school. It's hard but as a parent I found I had to be very proactive and always follow up. He is now 28 and married and an auto mechanic as he likes to work with his hands.
I love the quilt and what it means to you and it strikes a chord with me.
Thank you for blogging!
Laura

mathea said...

kathy,
this is an awesome quilt! I love the color and textures. It is interesting how literal kids are esp. those with Aspergers.

norma said...

This is a great quilt and I loved reading your explanation of each section. Your buttons are wonderful as are the beads the colors, and the quilting. I have a nephew with Aspergers.

Sabrina said...

As an "Aspie" myself I want to say that we do make it and grow into productive adults. The "stuff" never goes away but we learn to deal with world as others see it. And being literal can be great as an artist, we just need to keep those inside thoughts from falling out sometimes. It is my Aspergers that helped me with my work (ability to hyper focus on a subject) and my artwork. I have learned at 48 that being an Aspie is a gift not a problem. There are more resouces becoming available. Blessings to you and yours
Sabrina
Chicana Creating Art through Chaos Blog
http://sabrinazart.blogspot.com/

Carmen Rose said...

I have that hyper focus thing as well, I think it's great but nobody wants to keep my hours for some reason. LOL! :)

Leigh-Anne Crooke said...

Your quilt is such an accurate reflection of an Aspergers child. It's amazing. My son is 11 years old and has Aspergers so I understand exactly what you are dealing with.

Leigh-Anne Crooke said...

And Sabrina... thanks for your positive words. It's very reassuring as a parent of an Aspergers child to know that "there is hope"

katyquilts said...

This is such a beautiful and moving piece that captures this situation so well. So many kids are in the same situation. Blessings on you and your son. Merry Christmas!

Roberta Ranney said...

Hi Kathy - The quilt is wonderful -intense color and great graphic appeal. And I appreciate the thought that went into each and every part of it. Your description of the levels of meaning help me see the richness of this work. And I love you putting out the traffic cone and doing a street rubbing!

Margeeth said...

Do I understand correctly that you have created some new kind of special education for your son? I can understand him falling through the cracks very well, public education is not suitable for children with aspergers syndrome, while most children with aspergers syndrome are just too clever for regular special schools.
We face the same problems.

kathy york said...

Thanks to everyone for posting a comment. It is helpful to hear from so many of you and your experiences.
Margeeth, No, sadly I have not created a new education plan for my son. He is in public school and suffering. His school has a special program for kids with autism though. And he has his own case worker, this is a first for us. She is available for him during his meltdowns, so he has a place to go now. The transition to middle school has been rough with lots of meltdowns at home and too much homework, even with his decreased work load from his IEP. At least with this case worker we have good communication, and she advocates for him at school. We also do a lot of homeschooling to supplement his unique gifts during school breaks and summers.

Vivien said...

This is the second time I've come back to your blog to look at your quilt; it's very powerful. Your explanation of the quilt is as well.

Kay Koeper Sorensen said...

What a fantastic quilt that tells the story so well about your son and his struggles and accomplishments and your family.
There is nothing greater than a mothers love.
K

suequilts said...

Wow, you really captured the emotions you were going for! I love this piece. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Bethel of Bethania said...

G'day Kathy
I absolutely love this art quilt it sure says it all ... seems to be the same problems the world over - number & $ counting intstead of helping individuals who can become something great if only shown the way ...
You quilt is so virbrant & joyful ... love the materail, buttons, stitching & the wonderful beads...
I hope this art quilt goes far & wide to open more eyes to the problems of our young ... OOroo... Bethel

kimquiltz said...

Beautiful! My daughter is Aspergers. Your quilt speaks beautifully.

Helen said...

I love this! The beads are beautiful and the spiral quilting in the close up shots is awesome. Great piece.

TextileTraveler said...

Stunning work, Kathy. How wonderful that you have the talent and skills to represent your son's situation--and the problems with our school systems--visually and in such a beautiful way.

Stacy said...

I love this quilt; just looking at it even before reading the story was truly wonderful & inspiring. You have such a great skill.

Em said...

A quilt that I look at for a very long time and celebrate each aspect! Your son is lucky to have you for a mom!!! I work with individuals with Asperbergers and find such delight in their thinkings and comments. They have a gift! Em

Bella Linguini said...

I came to this post after reading the most recent post about the "Safe Home" quilt donation. It reminded me a lot of the cover of the February/March 2010 Quilting Arts magazine. I finally remembered to check and saw that it is your work!

"Falling Through the Cracks" is a beautiful and I really love reading about the story behind the piece.