Gwen Vogelzang | Special Needs Adoptive Parenting

Gwen Vogelzang | Special Needs Adoptive ParentingBack in April, Rylan and I were discussing entrepreneurship (is that a word?) during home school time.  In an effort for someone else to explain the amount of work that goes into starting a business, we took a field trip to a local cafe to interview Lennon, the founder and head baker extraordinaire.  She talked to him about her journey and he informed her with confidence that he was going to start an art business.

News to me.  She reacted with enthusiasm and offered the use of her cafe if he wanted to do an art show.  When I saw the look on his 10 year old face, I knew this art show was going to be in our future.  After much discussion about why a show featuring Pokemon characters wouldn’t be enticing to the general public, we landed on a theme of artwork depicting what it feels like to live in his brain.

A complex topic to say the very least.

He was game and he began (slowly) creating drawings and descriptions for the many intricacies he lives with.  Midway through our prep, I decided it could be interesting to add the parent perspective to the show and put together short pieces from this blog and photos to match.

We mounted our work to gator boards, hired our favorite art therapist to do some 3d projects with him and Lennon worked out the food, booze and cafe details.  On Friday, July 7th we set up the show and welcomes 80+ people into Charm 3 Cafe to tour the Strokes of Genius Art Show.

It was awesome friends.

Kinda felt like our wedding being surrounded by so many people who support us and love our littles.  My heart was full.  Rylan greeted people (after they wrote their names in chalk outside), Reagan and all our little people guests did art projects outside with our therapist friend, and guests silently toured, read, and learned more about our little man than they possibly could have expected.

People approached me in tears, explaining how moved they were and how overwhelmed they felt by the honesty of what they saw and read.  Again, my heart was full.  People came through the Tourettes Facebook group I belong to, which was incredibly meaningful.  An adult man who lives with Tourettes told me the show was like walking back through his childhood and seeing his feelings put into words.

Gwen Vogelzang | Special Needs Adoptive Parenting

A Labor of Love

This experience was a labor of love for both Rylan and me.  As I typed out his verbal descriptions for the artwork, I had to stop a number of times and catch my breath.  I know this little boy better than anyone onplanet earth, and I learned nuggets of valuable and heartbreaking info as we worked together.

For him it’s no biggie.  It’s just him and he doesn’t see any of it as a “thing.”  He has no Gwen Vogelzang | Special Needs Adoptive Parentingidea the impact of his little art show.  The event itself made his brain feel “depressed” and he kept asking to go home so he could relax.  Not a surprise for anyone who walked through the show. I’m so proud of him and his desire to teach people about his brain.  I hope to continue adding to his show and set it up in places where people can benefit from an insiders peek into the brain of a kiddo living with special needs.  It’s quite a peek if I do say so myself.

Going on the Road

Rylan and I are taking this art show on the road!  Below are samples of what you’ll find, plus dozens of additional pieces we’ll keep secret.  We’ve printed each piece on professional boards, allowing for easy installation.  If your business, school, church, or non-profit is interested in hosting the Strokes of Genius Art Show, contact me.

Art Show Pieces

Gwen Vogelzang | Special Needs Adoptive ParentingTHE WAVES OF RELAXATION  by:  Rylan Vogelzang

I found a painting of waves at therapy that calmed me.  I wanted to buy it, but Mom keeps saying no because I don’t have $50.  She decided I could copy it for my art show.  The painting calmed me because it felt like going to the beach and swimming.  Waves rush toward the shore and have to relax when they break on the ground.  When they hit the shore they stop and the water relaxes and lets it trickle down the the water.  Then the water gets hit by another wave and another and another….. I like it when I know what will happen and when it sounds calm and predictable.

Gwen Vogelzang | Special Needs Adoptive ParentingBOSS BRAIN  By:  Rylan Vogelzang 

This brain includes all my joy.  The joy is yellow and it’s all over because joy is my main emotion.  Have you seen Inside Out?  I think I have two Joys living in my brain.  The inside circle includes emotions I don’t really think about like anger, fear, disgust, and sadness.  I don’t feel these emotions a lot.  Like, I do get angry, but not a lot and it goes away fast because all my other thoughts take over like a snap.  God made me to have all that joy inside.  HAND OF POKES  By:  Rylan Vogelzang

When I get touched it feels like needles or nails poking my skin.  It doesn’t really hurt, but it’s uncomfortable.  When I know someone is going to touch me, it feels like I’m about to get a shot.  I might move my body to get away or bend my back if someone is touching my back.  If someone touches my shoulders I might freak out.  I try to say, “Please don’t touch me,” because I want them to get away, but I don’t want them to get mad.  It works pretty well.  The pokey feelings goes away right away after I get touched.  I like it when people ask to give me hugs because sometimes that’s okay.  It’s confusing, but I like to touch other people with squeezes.  My body feels so relaxed after I squeeze.  This gets me in trouble a lot because it’s not appropriate to squeeze anything that’s alive.  But do NOT squeeze me please.   

BRAIN OF SLEEPINESS  By:  Rylan Vogelzang

So, this is the brain of sleepiness.  It’s where my brain gets tired of having to think so much.  My brain gets tired and dizzy, but I don’t actually fall asleep because it’s SO hard for me to actually fall asleep.  My brain only gets sleepy when I have to think about things I’m NOT interested in.  This happens a lot at school and when I have to learn things.  I actually do hear the words and save them to my junk file, but my body will yawn and I want to rest my head on my desk because the teacher would notice if I put my head on the floor.  I just need to make my body comfortable and that’s hard to do at school.  I get headaches if I have to think too hard because I have so many ideas I need to push aside.