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"Rag rugs are a new addition to the craft family at Teaching Hands.  First using a cutting machine the students make metres and metres of strips to weave using lap frames."
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About Susana

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Susana is passionate about life long learning and is tireless in the effort to promote a higher level of creativity in community adult programming, particularly for individuals with developmental disabilities. She advocates for a deeper understanding of how creativity can give meaning to individuals with a number of cognitive and mental health challenges by developing individualized projects to encourage meaningful interaction with their environment. 

 

“It is time”,  Susana suggests, “to present our clients with meaningful activities for skill development and provide them with the experiences and  the language to voice the sensations of  what it is like to “feel the flow” that comes with engaging the body and mind in something that catches their interest and begins to broaden their experiences in the world“. 


"This means those of us working with students and/or clients with a range of developmental or neurological deficits in the area of program development need to embrace creativity at its most sophisticated level".

 

The focus to advocate for a higher level of understanding in creative programming, began in 2001 when Susana observed a pattern when assessing adults with special needs who weren’t :“fitting in” to an adult community day program. Although the program seemed to meet the needs of the majority of participants, the individuals Susana was called in to observe, and make recommendations for, were often distracted, sometimes acting out, and not being compliant with a set schedule of activities. However, when novel and creative activities with supportive direction was introduced as part of the assessment process, those individuals maintained interest and a calm focus.

 

When the suggestion of promoting handiwork and art projects with additional sensory based activities was offered, the response was the planning, organizing and implementing of such projects would be time consuming for staff and could drive up program costs. Although providing individualized programming for participants does require in the initial stage a considerable amount of time from the planning stage to the evaluating stage, the payoff is our sons and daughters are more likely to experience feelings of personal success and an element of control over their environment. Concurrently, by using our hands to engage and explore with meaning and intention, we encourages an exchange between the visual and the verbal brain processes.

 

And so the opportunity to provide an alternative service  for parents seeking a higher level of engagement for their adult son or daughter was born. Susana’s therapeutic practice builds on her experience from the early days of being an occupational therapy assistant in the Ontario mental health system;  teaching therapeutic art and movement based on bio-energetic principles, (B.F.A.), a graduate degree in adult education and creative curriculum (M.Ed.) and continuing advanced certification in cognitive therapy.

 

 Susana also is a sessional professor at George Brown College, in Toronto, Ontario, teaching personal support workers nutrition and home management, non violent crisis intervention and acquired brain injury.