Friday, 8 September 2017

New Guelph resource about Autism Spectrum Conditions

We are happy to tell everyone about a special resource we are creating at the Guelph Public Library. It is a collaboration between  GSA's Bridges-Over-Barriers and Facilitation Wellington Dufferin. At the following link is a list of the first 60 books with a note of explanation about this project. Above all we hope that our  community will come to understand and really support our people who live with ASC (Autism Spectrum Conditions) to be included and have real  choices to sustain good lives.
Just skimming the titles will give you an idea of the breadth of ASC and the welcome increase in information. 

Sensory issues have come into clearer  focus, including in planning environments that help people to thrive.  For GSA supporters and others interested in creating good homes, we  recommend At home with autism : designing housing for the spectrum / Kim Steele, Sherry Ahrentzen / Kim Steele, Sherry Ahrentzen | Policy Press | 2016.

People  with more complex needs at the severe end of the spectrum are not  always discussed with similar respect, notably people who cannot use  their voices and who are assumed to be cognitively as well as  communicatively impaired. 

While there is still a shortage of books about communication supports, the top Autism book of 2017 must be Naoki Higashida’s Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8,  translated by David Mitchell. Friends of GSA and Bridges: If there’s  only one book about Autism you can read this year, this should be it.  Happy to report that GPL already has this book as well as Naoki’s  earlier The Reason I Jump (2013).  

This is one way we are honouring the memory of Mary Johnston, a great friend and encourager of GSA and Bridges-Over-Barriers for the past 20 years.

Andrew with Gerry & Elizabeth
Guelph Services for the Autistic: Bridges-Over-Barriers

Monday, 8 May 2017

Eden Mills Arts Festival

During May, we will post updates to tell you about the Eden Mills Arts Festival the last weekend of May.
At least ten members of the Bridges Communication Group will be showing their art and often their words as well. These are some of the artists' profiles:
Kevin Vasey: “Painting is a wonderful means of expressing thoughts, feelings, emotions and creativity. Working with colours and textures is calming and satisfying. I also enjoy writing, music, books, gardening and camping.” I appreciate Heidi and the Bloomfields for arranging and setting up the art display at Eden Mills.
Sara Lyne: “I live in Simcoe, Ontario. I enjoy music a lot and especially dancing! I go to Haldimand Abilities Centre very week to participate in the Canvas and Mocktails painting class. I have been doing this for a couple of years and have accumulated a gallery of my paintings. I enjoy using a lot of colour and different flowers are my favourite things to paint. I love to paint and find it relaxing and it makes me smile! I need colour in my life. I hope you enjoy my creations and find it a pleasure to look at!“
Isaac Wong has made a painting of a flower entitled I Love You, showing his colour and autistic love; had painted in the past but in an inclusive arts group for past 5 weeks. 
Christopher:. “My name is Christopher Wrigley and I am grateful to be sharing my writing with you. I have never been a creative visual artist but I enjoy art is in all of its magnificence. Nature is our ultimate inspiration; is it not? I have chosen a rainbow for my work here today because it is a fleeting wonder just as human lives on this our glorious planet. I am now losing my sight. I thank my friend Sophia for her assistance in making adaptations and spending her precious time in working with me. I also wish to thank my friend Andrew for arranging this show of work by individuals who must depend upon the dedication of loving friends to be heard. I give you my heart in peace and greater understanding for all those of differences.”
Jillian Mothersell: expresses herself very eloquently in words. She likes colours, especially light blue, and looking at the sky when the sun is shining. 
Joey Umbrico has been painting mainly in oils in his Toronto studio for 3-4 years with his teacher Gary. 
Matt (Matthew Macdonald): “I paint because it helps me to be free. It is a freeing thing to do.”
Tim Marmura has sent an abstract painting from Antigonish NS. Tim says: I enjoy painting. I prefer making large pieces over which I have more control. Music is very important in my life. It helps me relax. It pleases me that my artwork appears on L’Arche cards.
John Morris-Dadson: “I do artwork at the SEA (Community Services Sensory Exploration Arts) Program using paint and other things like sand, seashells, stones, glass and even eggshells and seeds. I like making art that is surprising and fun to see and touch.”
Andrew Bloomfield: “My words are a painting and my paintings show my words in colour and form. As I cannot speak with my voice, I use computers to express my thoughts and feelings in prose and poetry. I have been painting seriously since 2009, usually with acrylics on canvas. First I compose my thoughts and images in poetry. Then my art mentor Heidi and I collaborate to choose and combine the colours, forms and textures for a painting. Heidi stabilizes my painting arm. This painting combines my sensitivity to Max the horse with my passion to speak up for our rights to express ourselves and make our own decisions.”

*For an online version of the Eden Mills Arts Festival brochure, follow this link:

Monday, 1 May 2017

New poem for a new painting about my Green Oasis

AB 25 March 2017
The fresh smell of the morning dew 
on the new day
is ready for a fresh start.
Droplets of water are hanging on, 
just waiting to fall
to give the soil a taste of refreshment,
just enough to give a nourishing drink 
and refresh its dryness.
The buds begin to come awake 
and peek out from their slumber.
The winter has given them rest 
and restored their strength.
Now it is time to come to life again.
It’s spring!
Come awake, so we can see all your beauty!

Once the buds develop,
and the leaves and stems
come to life again,
the life in my garden
becomes a captivating green oasis
with lushness to enjoy.
The green gives a place of peace and tranquility
where everything is real.
There is no artificial plastic material in a plant:
it is real and serene.
I love it for what it is.

I sit on my swing to enjoy the birds
as they enjoy the sights of my garden
and benefit from the seeds and twigs for their homes.
Yukon loves to watch the birds play
a game of who gets to the fence first
while the wind pushes their wings together.
It is a green oasis of serene joy
as I sit and take in the sights, sounds, smells
of my beautiful garden.
This is truly serenity.

My Artist Profile-Eden Mills Festival

“My words are a painting and my paintings show my words in colour and form.”

As I cannot speak with my voice, I use computers to express my thoughts and feelings in prose and poetry. I have been painting seriously since 2009, usually with acrylics on canvas.

First I compose my thoughts and images in poetry. Then my art mentor Heidi and I collaborate to choose and combine the colours, forms and textures for a painting. Heidi stabilizes my painting arm and supports me to show what is in my mind. I wish there could be another way of stabilizing my body so I could paint what is in my mind all by myself.

My Horse and Man painting combines my sensitivity to Max the horse with my passion to “speak up” for our rights to express ourselves and make our own decisions. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

Eden Mills Arts Festival

Hello friends, I am posting to let you know about the upcoming Art Festival in Eden Mills (just outside of Guelph). For an online version of the brochure, follow this link:

Here is my main art piece that I will be showcasing this year

The Eden Mills 2017 brochure (I am #11):

Please spread the word and I hope to see you there!

Monday, 27 March 2017

New Video

Can I share my latest short video? HORSE AND MAN shows my work with Max the horse at Sunrise, with some scenes of other places where I have worked with horses. I also share a related poem and my new painting for the Eden Mills Arts Festival. Thanks to Jesse for support at Sunrise and for his video skills and to Heidi for being my art mentor. To watch the video, click the picture or visit the link:

We are making various short videos so new friends and supporters can understand how best to encourage me to do my best and realize my dreams. It's also a kind of social story to see myself in everyday activities. The day we filmed this video was actually "grey" for me but I tried my best.

Monday, 13 March 2017

My rock collection
I like to travel--just about anywhere. California for sure and to revisit New Zealand where I was born. I specially love to travel by train. But my sensory and movement differences get in the way.
My friends who do travel bring back rock samples as well as photographs and postcards. I have a special rock cabinet with the rocks labelled with their composition and the place they were picked up. I have rocks from all over Canada from the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland to Yellowknife. From outside Canada too, in various parts of the US and the Caribbean, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Russia, Korea and New Zealand.
I have just been given a collection of special rocks from northern Ontario by a geologist Lindsay Debono. Stuart is helping me to post photographs of them.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Two Videos Posted to my YouTube!

1. Two videos just posted:
Listen to Us!
The May 2016 gathering of Bridges-Over-Barriers in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. This time we were seven adults from around southern Ontario with messages also from two more distant members, Tim in Antigonish and Kevin in Petrolia. We all use supported communication as we cannot speak with our voices because of our movement and sensory differences. We meet to share news, challenges and strategies and this time exchanged ideas about how we can ensure that it is really our words that are heard. 

 Music for my Body, Mind and Soul
As a man who lives with complex health challenges and movement and sensory differences, I talk about how music and rhythm help me. I made this video for my friend Dr Sunyoung Kim who organized a jazz concert in Seoul, Korea on 25 January 2017, at which some of my poems, set to music, were performed. 
This video was also seen at the concert but I gave its name afterwards. 
You could view one or more of the 15 video files from the concert, including Andrew’s songs set to music, by cutting and pasting this search into your browser:
<2017 Music Therapeutic Story Concert "Autistic Poet Andrew's music story">

Link to my short film:

If you enjoyed the videos, you can Subscribe to  my YouTube channel 😄

Monday, 30 January 2017

Some Concert Photos

Just received these photos from my great music friend in Korea--of last week's jazz concert in Seoul that was inspired by our music relationship.

Some New Poems

I had a good conversation over the weekend, typing to talk my thoughts. Though my head felt in a fog to start with, I was able to express myself and brought out two poems that have been waiting in my head for some time. They are inspired by our work with colours as well as my relationships with different friends.

My eyes are my camera to the world
AB 28 January 2017
My eyes are my camera to the world:
I see what my senses are allowing me.
The sight is just of ways I actually see:
I need my whole body to make it focus.
When my body is in turmoil
my sight is unclear
and it is like a fog.
When I am balanced and feeling my best
my sight is clear and bright.
It takes all of the energy I have
to use my senses together.
Red, green, orange, yellow, purple and blue
are bright and happiness is felt.
Grey and black leave me with doubt.
White is clear and empty and unfinished.
It is a good day to see the bright colours and it gives me joy.
I need all of these colours to make my life choices.
I need the grey and black colours
to give me gratitude for the bright days.
It is through the ears and nose and mouth
and also my fingers
that I truly can see through my eyes.
It is a big film
taking place in my mind
before I have this sight.
This is a camera of many different lenses.
I see life as I sense and feel it.
It is a series not a one-time film.

My friends are the heartbeat of my home
AB, 28 January 2017
My friends are the heartbeat of my home.
Each one brings a different tone and rhythm;
together they make an orchestra.
I have the bold and triumphant
who bring the new ideas and loud change.
The soft and slower moving bring
a calm and soothing  tune.
I feel the song come to life as they enter my home.
Each of my friends is a gift with different tunes to sing.
It reminds me of different birds.
Sometimes are the tunes are bit fast and confusing
while others are relaxing.
It is always a nice song each day brings
with new and old friends entering my home.
It is a beautiful song to hear when we are together.