Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Flowers take center stage in the fight against autism

How do flowers take center stage in the fight against autism you ask yourself, scratching your head and thinking I have gone off the deep end... well perhaps I have and perhaps it is hard to understand what flowers have to do with autism.

In fact, flowers, paper flowers, are at the root of my/our existence. They stand between lack of purpose, lack of engagement in the world around us and they create bonds, connections and common ground. They are my autistic "social media."

Without a purpose, a job so to speak, Andrew, who has been mute and unable to converse without an assistive device is left without a reason to engage, without a purpose to be part of this larger world. Instead he stays locked up and locked into his own very small universe.

By creating flowers and keeping our Etsy shop alive I feel connected and determined to give him and myself purpose.

During our work with creating paper flowers, he appears to have a sense of self worth... I cannot ask him, but I can see by the look on his face, the smiles, the eye contact that I have scored a home run.

There are jobs we have determined that he dislikes, by his vocalizations and facial expressions...painting being one of those jobs.... and NO he is not a savant.. he does not paint Picasso renditions or launch off into a self portrait. He hands the paint brush back with a look of disgust... too messy... to uncontrolled.. too something... he just does not like it.. and so we no longer pursue painting.

However, we have discovered a new passion for him... he loves to stamp.. and stamp and stamp, and so he has developed a whole line of flowers that are his alone... Hand stamped and hand created... hand painted by ME since I do love to paint. (We don't share the abhorrence for painting gene).

He recently celebrated his 21st birthday.. I am floored by all that has occurred over the years and discouraged by the lack of forward movement both in the job situation for adults with disabilities and the living conditions available for them. (Group homes with poorly trained rotating staff members does not entice me to think good thoughts about this placement for him or others with disabilities). We are not doing a good job as a society.  We have emptied the institutions only to find there is not  much better for these individuals in life after institutions and developmental centers.

And so it goes for Andrew that we start each day with flowers.. and flowers save us.. they give us purpose and hope.

Andrew had a hand or finger in all of the products seen below.. either cutting the paper or cutting the wire stems. I am proud of him and proud of our little flower business... we often struggle ... but we never give up..
Please visit our Etsy shop at  to see more products...

Cate & Andrew