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Thread: Teaching grandchildren to quilt

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    :D :D Our granddaughter has autism. We've known this since she was about 3 years old; she is now 14. At one point she lived in Alaska with her mother and step-father(She was about 8 years old) While I was visiting there with her and it was way to cold to be outdoors, I decided to teach her to make a quilt. We started on a simple 9 patch which we sewed by hand. This taught her to thread a needle, tie a knot, and sew a 1/4 inch straight seam with small stitches. She was so very proud of her accomplishments and it certainly helped passed the time when there is more darkness than daylight. I think we forgot that it was dark and cold outside.

    More than filling the time, we had discovered a way to captilize on some of her obsessive/compulsive nature. She loves colors, she is very "pickey" about the feel of fabrics in her clothes so 100% cotton fabric met "the feel test". Then the need to have everything "just perfect" got realy good results in a quilt block.

    This first quilt has her "hooked on quilting". She has returned to Texas to live with us and Santa brought her her own sewing machine in 2005. We have now graduated to making star quilts; she loves every minute of her quilting time, and it has been a way she spends time in the sewing room away from me. Some times she sews all day long.

    Not all autistic children will be able to learn to quilt. Some have very limited motor skills. Our child is very fortunate to have very very good fine motor skills. We had a very sharp teacher who had sissors in her hands by the time she was 3 years old and by the time she was 5 teachers had her cutting out items to be used for class projects.

    This posting is to encourage anyone out there who may have children in their family with disabilities such as autism to search for and use the abilities which they do have. Quilting may not fit everyone. With our grandaughter, quilting has been a very great opportunity for her to excell and has helped me as a caregiver to provide an activity which I only supervise. I do need to say that I have been very careful to explain safety issues like closing the rotary cutter each time it is laid aside, and not only have I talked about this I practice everything!!!!

    Also, each person/child with a disability may have special ways in which they learn. Our child seems to learn best by watching someone, and she observes every minute motion. When we are starting a new quilt, I sew out the first block while she is watching and from then on she is on her way. There have been times when I am making some of the blocks with her and there have been times when my block does not meet her standards and she throws it aside.

  2. #2
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    God Bless you grandma!! I have two small granddaughters (2 yrs old and 2 months) . I am very excited for the day we can sew together. Hopefully they will get the 'bug' like yours did :) You're an inspiration to the rest of us. Take care.

  3. #3
    Diamonds's Avatar
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    Nana2 you are a very special Grandma.. She is very lucky to have you..

  4. #4
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    Since I am better at quilting than getting pictures into attachments it will take a little time to get a photo posted, but I will try to do that in the next few days.

  5. #5
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    I have a niece who is autistic and it took some time but we too, found her talents.
    I worked in a production plant with an autistic woman and it was a pleasure, she never turned out a bad part, she never was late/or missed work, she was an asset to the company. It was a pilot program, and it was turning into a very sucessful employment situation. I have been to several workshops where adults with different types of mental issues worked and they turned out beautiful crafts and other items that were sold to the public. There are two shops here that are very profitable with the wood cabinents made and sold by these individuals. I have seen so many changes since the early 70's when I first started volunteering, and most all for the better! Thankfully over the last 2 decades the realization of what these children and adults can do is moving forward. As you stated, it just takes some time to investigate their unique individual talent and let them explore and perfect it!
    There is nothing like the look on their face when they realize that there is something that they can do, enjoy doing, are good at, and the praise that goes along with it gives them the confidence to continue and try new things too :)
    A big thank you to all who have given their time to help, teach and just spend time with anyone who is just a little "different" in their own unique way :D :D :D


  6. #6
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    :D :D :D This info is so encouraging. Hopefully more and more employers will recognize that our "special needs" people can benefit their company in many ways. Also volunteers are so special and so needed. I am sure that we are all seeing the info that one (1) out of every 166 children born will have autism. I wonder what the total for all disabilities would be; or to state this another way -- how many children out of every 100 children born are without problems??? Having our grandchild with her special situation has given me a very different prespective on life. To be given life with no physical or mental disabilities is an extremely special blessing. Using our abilities to help those who have handicaps brings even more blessings into our lives. Some of our very smallest deeds of kindness brings great happiness to a person who may have a healthy mind trapped in a "messed up body" (our child's expression for some of her classmates) as well as to those who have some type of mental disorder (for the lack of a better word) Through the years I am finding that quilters are very aware of others and their needs. Perhaps this is why we are so willing and eager to help other quilters "figure out" a quilt pattern or pass on tips which can make a specific project easier and achieve the desired result. Personally, I find quilting gives opportunity for time to think and say prayers. After all there are times when we have a zillion pieces to sew together and television's repeats just don't hold my attention.

  7. #7
    Super Member
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    i am happy for you and your grandaughter. it would be nice if all children with disabilities were able to do such projects. i have 4 grandchildren (2 girls and 2 boys). my grandaughters are 9 and 6. they live so far away and when i hear about some of you who are able to teach them to sew. just makes me miss them all the more. i wish so bad that they were here to be able to teach them to sew, crochet and so much more. my grandsons are 10 and 3. i sure do miss them. lucky to all of you have your grandchildren close by.

    jeanette

  8. #8
    Super Member henryparrish76's Avatar
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    This is great. I worked with autistic children my first year teaching in our public school system. I enjoyed it and learned just as much from them as they did from me. I never thought to try quilting but wow I wish I wouyld have.

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