Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Introduction: I first became a fan of Artist Justin Chanha, a 19-year old with autism, when I noted that he created the delightful cover art for Just Give Him the Whale, a book that supplies tips on how to use special interests to help a child succeed in an inclusive classroom. Special interests has been my theme at Autism Blog for the last two weeks. Today's spotlight on this talented and successful artist is my grand finale. I hope you enjoy the following updated biography that his mother sent to me earlier this week.
"Justin Canha, 19, is an accomplished artist. He also happens to be autistic.
His childhood passion for drawing animals and cartoon characters revealed an innate talent that attracted the attention of the mainstream art community when Justin was 14 years old.
Justin explores a wide range of subjects that showcase his clever sense of humor and unusual sensitivity to human and animal relationships. Using characters all his own, Justin's computer animations are full of action-packed stories, while his paintings celebrate still life and portraiture. His charcoal drawings have an innocent and ethereal quality that capture, for example, poignant moments between friends or love between mother and child.
In sum, Justin's illustrations demonstrate the intensity and perspective of the autistic mind and serve as a powerful form of communication.
Represented by the Ricco/Maresca Gallery in NYC, Justin was the featured artist in its Autism/Aspergers Art Exhibit in New York City in January 2005. Justin's animations received an honorable mention by Jerry Saltz, who juried the Studio Montclair Exhibit, "Taboo," in May 2005. Justin's work has also been exhibited at The Cooper Union in New York and at Montclair State University in Montclair, NJ. Justin has had solo exhibits at The Montclair Public Library in Montclair, NJ, Pace University in NYC, at The JCC in Manhattan, and at Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, NJ.
In August 2006, Justin's artwork was featured in Oprah Magazine. Aspects of his autistic and artistic life have been described in two recent documentaries, Autism: A Different Way of Communicating and Sidecars. In January 2008, Justin successfully made his world debut at the Outsider Art Fair in NYC. In April, his artwork was shown at Art Chicago, the world-renowned international contemporary and modern art fair. Justin's artwork [has been] exhibited at the Morris Museum in Timeless: The Art of Drawing in Morristown, NJ.
Illustration commissions include the cover for Paula Kluth's book, Just Give Him the Whale and all the drawings for Pedro's Whale, a children's book by the same author, to be released in 2009. Justin has also been commissioned to illustrate a whole new line of math teaching books for young children on the spectrum called IBET (Integrated Behavioral Experiential Teaching). He is also working on the illustrations for a book entitled, It's Not a Problem, by Ron Pecarek.
Currently a student at Montclair High School, Justin has been taking college level courses in cartooning and animation at Bloomfield College, Montclair State University and Pace University during the past couple of years."
Concluding Thoughts: I'd like to thank Justin's parents for giving me permission to use Justin's photo, emailing me a list of links and for sending me his biography, which is an update of the one on his website. I look forward to taking a look at Justin's artwork which will be featured in the children's book Pedro's Whale, written by Paula Kluth, one of the authors of Just Give Him the Whale. The book, which I hope to review when available, is expected to be released sometime in 2009.
Please take time to visit Justin's website where you can view several of his works done in array of media. It is worth your time. The versatility and talent of this young artist is quite impressive. My favorite group of work was his oils depicting animals in vivid colors, but I also appreciated how much his style changed when he used other art forms such as charcoal.
I'd like to suggest two other sites. The first is the one for Sidecars, and second one is for the Ricco/Maresca Gallery. The first provides a trailer and information about the documentary Sidecars (which features Justin and a friend/art student) and the second website features five of his works and a short bio about Justin. It also provides the options to see either the trailer or the entire version of Sidecars, which was directed by Ben Stamper and produced by Justin's parents.
At 19 years old, Justin already has a career that most artists dream about. I should know as I'm the aunt of neuro-typical two nieces (cousins) who have parents nervous about their chosen fields in art. It is not easy or typical to be successful as an artist, but Justin Canha has managed to establish his place in the field.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Now the day after the inauguration of Barack Obama, it is time to reflect and wonder. Many have put their faith in this new president to solve most of the nation's problems, but our problems are huge and will take time to correct and solve. Hope is an essential part of putting a positive spin on life, but patience must back it up.
It will be interesting to look back in four years and see the actions President Obama took to correct these problems. Ideally, good decisions will abound from the new administration and inevitable mistakes will be kept to a minimum. If this holds true hopefully the shape of the nation and the economy, in particular, will be at least somewhat improved.
President Obama's decisions will effect us all which is why this post is relevant to a blog about autism. Those who have children with autism, hope that decisions of the father of two, will make decisions that will have a positive economic impact on their families. Individuals, families and especially parents and spouses with loved ones in the military hope for peace and the aversion of terrorism. Perhaps most relevant to this blog is the hope that the new U.S. President will adequately address the health care issue and treat the subject of autism with the respect that it deserves.
In four years, will we see at least some of the hope we all felt yesterday regardless of who wins the 2012 election? Will the inauguration in January 2013 produce the same joyful atmosphere? The expectation (and hope, of course) is that the answer will be yes.
Author's note: This post only vaguely fits the two-week focus of special interest at this blog. Thus, I'd like to dedicate this post not only to the new President, but to my husband, who explores a special interest at his blog, American-presidents.org and to my own little patriots who have signed up for an audition to sing the National Anthem at their school's upcoming talent show.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Herbie's home looks a little spotty because my son, C1, decided to "make it snow." My husband and I discovered the hard way that he could reach Herbie's vitamin powder. At least it was harmless compared to scouring powder (with bleach), which could have been chosen to serve as the snow. A stern lecture to C1 seems to have prevented another snowstorm.
However, C1, still likes to "make it rain." Herbie needs to have his bedding sprayed down on a regular basis, so "making it rain" is OK as long as he does this in moderation. We have taught our son how to hold the nozzle of the spray bottle upward rather than downward when spraying so that the water will come down more gently if Herbie is out rather than under his log where he sometimes hides for hours at a time. We noticed that Herbie sometimes comes out of hiding when it starts to rain. Herbie seems to like having water sprinkled on his home.
My husband and I still take the responsibility of feeding Herbie. The toad eats crickets and/or blood worms. We let our both of our sons watch. When C1 gets older this may be a responsibility we can trust him to do without consequence. Cleaning the cage (to my dismay) will be my job. Fortunately it's not something that needs to be done a lot and I'm grateful for that!
Final thoughts: Caring for Herbie has taken my husband and I out of our comfort zone regarding pets. Before Herbie, the only pets in our home have been cats that have been in our home for a long, long time. So far, though, caring for Herbie is easier than we thought it would be. We also both have admitted to having a soft spot in our hearts for the cute, little toad.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I was hoping to be finished making changes by now, but a lack of time combined with slow-dial up speed has slowed down progress. I have a few ideas that I'm looking forward to implementing, but changes will be coming at a slow and steady pace. I know good things can happen tortoises like the winning of a race that occurred in this fable, although I'm not planning on winning any sort of race.
The main goal is to be around for a while--something inspired by my husband who reserved this domain name for ten years!! I also hope to keep my valued readers--if not for ten years, at least for a while.
Up for the week of January 18, 2008: A Herbie Update, an Inauguration Day Post, and A Spotlight on a Mystery Person.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
"1. a story about a strategy that a student's hero has used to solve a problem, which is usually written on a single page and...
2. the Power Card itself, which is the size of a business card and recaps how the person using the card can use the same strategy to solve a similar problem. [...]"
Monday, January 12, 2009
Just Give him the Whale; 20 Ways to Use Fascination, Areas of Expertise and Strenghs to Support Students with Autism.
1. The book demonstrates to teachers how to connect and teach students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) by using the special interests of students with autism. It was inspired by a student on the spectrum who was fascinated by whales.
2. The book is meant for general education teachers who have a fully included student with ASD, but is also great for special education teachers, and all college students studying education. The book can be used as a college text, but most people should find this one easy and enjoyable to read. It is only 143 pages long.
3. There are also some great tips for parents. My next post will be about power cards, which I had not heard of until reading this book. My own tip is to mention or show this book to teachers who work with your child.
4. This book is well written by professionals in the field of education. Paula Kluth, Ph.D, is a consultant, teacher, author and independent scholar who works with teachers and family to provide inclusive opportunities for students. Patrick Schwarz, Ph.D, is Professor of Special Education and Chair of Diversity in Learning and Development for National-Louis University, Chicago.
5. This book convinces readers that special interests can be used to teach students on a range of topics from proper behavior in the classroom to the core subjects in the classroom such as math and reading.
6. The artwork and layout of the book is delightful. The cover art was created by Justin Canha, an individual on the autism spectrum. (Am hoping to do a post about him later in the week.)
7. This book is helpful because many people on the spectrum tend to have a specialized interest whether it is basketball, manhole covers, ceiling fans, calendars, or frogs.
8. Appendix A focuses on frequently asked questions in regards to using special interests to educate students on the spectrum. This section addresses many of the concerns that have come up on this topic.
9. Appendix B has great lists of references. The first list is of autobiographies written by people with autism and Asperger Syndrome. The second list is autobiographies written by families of people with autism and Asperger Syndrome. The third list is titled Other Strengths-focused Resources. As this last list is a short bibliography on special interests which is the focus for the week, I am hoping to share this list in a post sometime this week.
10. The book reveals that the idea of using special interests in the classroom has not always been well received. I was rather surprised to read this because my child's special interest in frogs has been embraced by his teachers. It never occurred to me that someone might think avoiding a child's special interest is a good idea. My thought on this is why wouldn't someone use a such a good bridge to reach a student? Using special interests to reach someone just seems sensible.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
- Book Reviews and/or excerpts
- Pros and cons of various therapies
- Tips that cover a variety of topics
- Methods and Strategies used to help a person with ASD
- Occasional personal family story related to solving an ongoing problem
- Week long insights into certain topics
- Photos or images for most posts
- Occasional inspirational story
Other Changes: I changed my blog description and profile and have a new blogger identity. Instead of J, I am now Jules. Hopefully, I will be able to put a profile picture up soon.
Topic for the week of January 11, 2009: Special Interest Areas.