A report by Vania DeGrande, Valinhos, Brazil
Editor’s note: This report was non-professionally translated from Portuguese and edited for clarification.
This particular project was developed for Acesa Capuava, Valinhos / SP Brazil, the social and educational organization that serves children and adults with disabilities, syndromes and autism.
Developed by Professor Rosangela Novaes, it covered many areas of development for a class with eight autistic children aged between 6 and 10 years. All of the children attend the program for therapies and educational stimulation during the morning hours, and attend the regular network of public schools in the afternoons, with the guidance of the Acesa professionals to aid with better adaptation and school performance.
Through a poem, “Spring,” whose author is unknown, the children were stimulated in different areas of development, with respect for each individual’s abilities. The culmination was the production of a colored mural made by the many little hands, which made concrete the various activities carried out by them over several weeks.
The teacher led the group in reciting the poem, drawing attention to the rhymes and sounds of the poetry. The children were encouraged to repeat the lines, and those already literate could read the poem printed on paper.
The poem was learned in fragments, then as a whole by the group. This provided the opportunity for those who could read to help others who still had difficulties learning to read and write.
Acesa Capuava is located on a farm and provides the children extensive opportunities for nature observation and experiences. Out in the field, the children were able to talk about and experience spring in all its power and fullness. They collected and selected the material to be used in the mural, such as flowers, leaves and bark. They watched the living nature, buds, the blossoming of the trees, the grass, the ground still wet with rain in the evening, and the sun glittering. These experiences provided tactile stimulation by recognizing the different textures of natural materials, including getting their hands in the dirt and being in the sun.
The music therapist's contribution to this project was through a popular song entitled "ORCHARD," singing the different trees and their fruits in the existing flora, and also working with rhymes and understanding of sounds at the time of writing in a fun and playful way. The children love it when music enters their rooms and is part of their work. Art and music are great allies for professionals working with autistic children because they are forms of spontaneous and joyful expression.
The idea to make a mural came from the observation of the children's interest in art. They are happier and calm, and the interaction happens naturally, promoting acceptance of differences while helping each other. With the participation of all, there were different textures and many colors used which aimed at the stimulation of all children in their different stages of development. The group is very diverse within the autistic spectrum, with some children being literate, and others utilizing a training clamp to assist with motor coordination, and others in the early process of writing their names.
The whole development of the project was done in stages planned lovingly by the teacher, ending in the making of a beautiful mural honoring spring-time, which in Brazil’s hemisphere occurs in September.
Flower essence therapy plays a complementary and beneficial role in the development process of autistic children, shown especially in this project, “Spring.” Many essences used with the children over the years have been supporting the construction of foundations for the development and achievement of each stage. The focused presence of a loving teacher and the various other professionals show the way to work with any child, but especially people with autism. Love, patience and respect for these individuals helps them immensely.
The flower essence therapist followed the development of the project as an observer, and offered the essences each step along the way. Some essences were present throughout the year and others were used at specific times. Because we work with the variety of individuals within the classroom, we do not use specific essences for autism as such, but rather we use flower essences for each individuals different needs. Looking at a specific individual will always be the best way to deal with the symptoms of any one autistic person, using flower essences to support them to achieve their potential. During the various stages of development, challenges can arise that need loving attention and patience. Flower essences blend nicely with any type of intervention for autistic people and act like a stimulus promoting acceptance.
Flower essences that supported the children throughout the year and the spring project are listed below. They were taken every day, 7 drops / 2 times a day, to facilitate the work of caretakers and teachers. If possible, this can be changed to 4 drops / 4 times a day with excellent results.
Photos of the flowers and indications for the essences listed below are included here.
Angelica – Angelica is a component in all the formulas for children, whether autistic or not. This essence connects the child with the full support of the spirit that it needs, making one feel connected and supported. Angelica, and also Monkshood, Green Rose, Lewisia and Dune Primrose are the essences that I consider very important to support the condition of autism.
Monkshood – A key flower essence for the child's spiritual protection. Mountain Pennyroyal, Yarrow and Garlic can also be used, but in some instances Monkshood will make all the difference in protection for the autistic child who has a greatly expanded and sensitive aura. Respecting the individuality of each, the therapist may choose which essence fits best.
Green Rose – This is a fundamental flower essence for the classic pattern of autism. It makes a heart connection to the world through trust, allowing the opening and breaking down of barriers and defensiveness. A flower with the green color of healing on its petals, this member of the Rosaceae family helps foster a relationship of love and how we do things through love. Green Rose is used in the context of a difficult situation enabling one to be more flexible, loving, inclusive and undefended.
Lewisia – Lewisia acts as a very special and loving work in the souls of these children, who cannot fit in and find a grounding space or comfort in the functioning of their bodies. With this type of sensitivity, Lewisia greatly assists the work of other essences that also will work in regard to the body, helping to find one’s own pace, independence and pleasure of being and doing things. It helps to recognize one’s own sensitivity and use it positively in favor of love in the world.
Dune Primrose – This flower essence is often in a formula for autistic children, providing support and protection on the spiritual level in a more maternal and feminine way. As a connection with the spiritual feminine, this essence helps one not feel alienated or unsuccessful, helping when there are signs of aggression, outbreaks and reactivity. I consider it to be an essence of warmth and remembrance for the soul to know that it is not alone.
Blackberry – Blackberry helps children take steps to make or implement an action. For example, taking the initiative for an activity, or at least allowing one to be stimulated and have a reaction to the stimulus. This is one of the essences that help the child do something in the outside world, leaving for a moment his own world.
Cherry Plum – Used when there is marked reactivity as is often typical for an autistic child when they feel enormous frustration for failing to accomplish something or even to communicate, and therefore they react outwardly. Outbreaks occur more frequently and more sharply in the environment, or with people, when the autistic child cannot make themselves understood. The frustration regarding communication impediment generates an increasing inner turmoil, overflowing to an aggressive or stereotypical acting out, such as flapping the hands or body rocking forward and back. These seem to be comfort mechanisms for agitation. It is important to support them with essences that generate comfort, nurturing and calm, in addition to providing calm and loving interactions with them.
Chestnut Bud – This is often present in the formula for the children, as some stimuli and training are repeated many times, and Chestnut Bud helps in the understanding and practice of assimilation. This is an enhancing essence that can be used with various types of essences. For example, for non-verbal autistic children, who will be receiving speech therapy training in alternative communication (methods where the child learns to communicate through pictures, for example), Chestnut Bud helps contextualize the images, learn and memorize which one to use, and maybe along with essences that help in logical reasoning (Shasta Daisy, Lemon). If a child is learning to be verbal, it can be combined with Cosmos and Larkspur.
Columbine – A wonderful essence of expression for individual creativity. Columbine brings the possibility of expression within one’s own limits, recognizing one’s light and expressing it in a unique way. In the group work on the Spring project, Columbine allowed each child to individually express their art on the mural, and the whole composed of parts from each child became much more beautiful because it portrayed a little of each. It's a fantastic essence to work with groups, in addition to others such as Quaking Grass, because it allows both self-expression in addition to others expressing themselves freely. Columbine speaks to appreciating one’s own creative work recognizing oneself as being unique.
Cosmos – Cosmos is a flower essence very useful for integrating ideas and speech. For autistic children it is essential because it helps organize ideas for communication in those who are verbal. Also it is helpful for nonverbal autistic children as it is of much help for the integration of thoughts and pictures and providing an alternative communication. It is very often used with Larkspur, Lemon and Peppermint for communication processes.
Dill – Some autistic children have more sensitivity to stimuli of various types (acoustic, visual, tactile, olfactory, taste) which causes them to become more agitated or reactive. Dill helps a lot in the discharge process when overloaded, but it is also important to find out which stimuli and which intensity is harmful to that child in particular, since one should always treat individually, knowing what is the best for each child.
Filaree – When there is an obsession with details, order or sequence of parts or toys, colors, etc., Filaree can bring a broader perspective, helping to change an ingrained behavior, enabling the assessment of things in another way. It is a supporting treatment for use by other professionals such as psychologists, to help clients work through the issue of obsession.
Green Bells of Ireland – This essence brings the possibility of seeing the world in a more friendly way, such as touching the plants or the ground. It helps make tangible materials which for some is very difficult. There are children who do not want to go out in the sun and nature, because their souls do not feel safe. Green Bells brings the message that the world is safe, that they can be here and now, fully living their forces.
Indian Paintbrush – This essence was used along with Iris for creative expression in painting, drawing and the collage mural. It brings creative force for carrying out the work of art with energy and enthusiasm.
Iris – Iris is often used with autistic children. I believe that art is a form of expression that allows freedom from the prison of their bodies or their difficulties. Often they fail to acquire communication and social interaction, but they are able to communicate through paint, brushes, clay, collage, music, poetry and other forms of artistic expression. Feelings are easily expressed through colors, shapes and sounds, and Iris amplifies this expression.
Larkspur – Larkspur is an essence that assists communication through speech, often used together with Cosmos. For non-verbal children, this essence stimulates a possible start of communication, and for verbal children, it assists in the expression of speech and greater ease in conducting the phrases or words.
Lemon – Lemon is a flower essence that helps with focus and centeredness in performing tasks. It brings mental clarity and provides calm for the mind to think and organize actions. With children, Lemon was used at various times in the classroom, but during the preparation of the mural, when children read poetry and had to mount it by gluing the cut sentences in the correct order, it allowed clarity and order in the reasoning.
Mallow – Mallow stimulates friendship and affection. I like to use it in group work, especially with mixed age groups. Children at different stages of development, with difficulty or not, can benefit from Mallow, bringing companionship to the group and to the difficulties and individuality of each. Those with autism have characteristic difficulty opening up to friendship or contact with other people. Mallow is a unique and fantastic essence for them in this regard.
Shooting Star – Many of us feel a certain strangeness living in our families, jobs, country or even on this planet. We feel that we do not belong to the group or feel very different. Shooting Star acts very well in the sense of the alienation felt by autistic children. Often these children can experience trauma of pregnancy or past lives, which increases the feeling of not belonging. Shooting Star invites one to take part, and try to like being here.
Sunflower – Sunflower impacts autistic children like the strength of the sun, bringing and radiating light, heat, and initiating motion. This essence acts in the forces of the ego, the individual being, in the essence of “I am.” It is consistently part of the formula for the children, because in order to bring them to the world and living, they need to feel strong and empowered by their own strength of self. I really like Sunflower also in outdoor work to increase awareness of the sun, its light and its heat, along with other essences that open the connection to feeling nature.
Pussy Paws – Some children do not like to be touched or hugged. This essence gently stimulates the desire to allow touch. Some of the children working on the Spring project became loving and spontaneous, and came to greet and hug me when I entered the room. It is very important to respect the child's wishes, and have patience for overcoming resistance and not impose the contact, which would cause them to become angry.
Quaking Grass – This is also a floral essence for working toward group consciousness, and respect for other members. It may be associated with Mallow and other essences. It helps to understand the other, knowing that others have rights and individual differences too, just like oneself.
Rabbitbrush – This essence helps to not just focus on one detail. Some with autism have a fixation or obsession with some object or with repeating a gesture. Rabbitbrush can assist with Filaree, described above, to bring a broader view and leave behind this behavior. During work on the project, for a long time, a child used only the color yellow to paint his designs. Rabbitbrush worked with Iris and Filaree, motivating him to try other colors. For two weeks, he was provided with more colors until one day blue was also chosen with yellow. Patience, persistence, love, flower essences and the knowledgeable and warm teacher assisted in this process.
Shasta Daisy – Shasta Daisy is a flower essence that helps to deal with various pieces of information and translate them into integrated and complete information. It is a fundamental essence in each and every learning process. The child is helped in the way that it brings together all given information or teaching, and translates it into new learning, acquiring a new view or realization. Shasta Daisy has application for the acquisition of reading and writing, the notion of quantity and numbers, and in learning the steps to performing a task. For example, using the bathroom: recognize the body's need, motivate behavior to communicate with the teacher, behavior to go into the bathroom and use it properly, behavior for hygiene, and then go back to the classroom. This is a small example of the whole, fragmented into small pieces, then resulting in a final process: autonomy to use the bathroom alone. Children with special needs often have a break in this continuity of a behavioral process.
Sierra Primrose – This is a flower essence that brings renewal of forces. When a process becomes long or difficult, such as learning for example, withdrawal can become the easy way out. However, this essence helps to renew the spirit and commitment, and magnificently serves anyone. The children or professional working with the child at some point do not want to go through certain training; professionals despite study and preparation, also become discouraged at some point; and, parents who have to deal with fatigue, frustration and the weight of it all cannot give up. Sierra Primrose is a balm for all, in any situation. Its heart-shaped petals bring softness and love, renewing the will to continue.
Zinnia – Zinnia is an essence that is much used in infant formulas, especially for any child with difficulties. It brings back the joy of being a child, an innocent and happy feeling of playfulness. When a child is young and there is a need for many therapies, with many professionals to encourage development, childhood hours can be lost and the process becomes heavy and painful. Zinnia brings back childish joy. We must never forget that one who needs so much care and stimulation is also a child who needs to be a child in her own time.
About Vania De Grande
Vania Lopes De Grande studied flower essence therapy with Cosmos Flower Therapy Institute and Rosana Vieira Souto in Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil. Vania has worked as a flower essence therapist since 2006.
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