Yijun took up clay art with Garie's Creations in November 1999. She was then in Primary 2 and had just been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Lack of understanding of her condition both in school and at home caused her to exhibit many psychosomatic symptoms relating to "severe - stress" sleep disturbances, gastric pains, panic attacks, school refusal etc. Her self-esteem was at rock bottom, as was her position on the social totem pole in school.
Books on ADHD emphasized the need for parents to support the ADHD child's area of strength, or "passion", so that she can at least experience success outside school (the odds are stacked against them in school). Yijun loved art and I had heard of art therapy. When I heard of Garie's clay art classes from a member of the ADHD Parent Support Group, I immediately brought Yijun there for an introductory session. The warm, "family" environment made her feel accepted and at ease. She took to it immediately, and has been attending regular weekly sessions since.
Yijun's progress in clay art has been heartening. After going through the basic courses making animal fridge magnets etc, she progressed to her (then) favourite Pokemon characters, and then to her all-time favourite: Unicorns! "Unicorns" as Yijun puts it "lives in your believing". She drew and made unicorns endlessly. My display cabinets are lined with many different interpretations of this magical creature that, I believe, offered her some refuge from the pain of facing angry teachers, parents and classmates at every turn.
Angry or impatient teachers/tutors -Yijun has had more than her fair share of them. It is not easy teaching an ADHD child who seems to be doing everything except pay attention to the lesson. It is to Garie's credit that he took her condition in his stride and, in the process, won her confidence and respect. Garie even took the trouble to help "showcase" Yijun's skills by going down to her school one day last year to give a free clay art session to her whole class. This popularized clay art amongst her peers, and Yijun's form teacher followed up on it with a one-girl class exhibition of Yijun's works, which gave her "instant popularity".
Today, in Primary 5, Yijun is a whole new person. She has regained her lost sense of self and has some friends in school and in clay art classes. Gone too are the psychosomatic symptoms. In clay art classes, she has naturally evolved from total absorption in unicorns to exploring other options - dinosaurs, dragons, assembly of battery-operated clay-coated animals etc. She is currently working on a large project involving entire scenes - rocky surfaces, lakes, trees and mini inhabitants. It is beautiful and I am planning to display it as the centrepiece in my living room.
the various therapies undergone and the nutritional supplements
taken, I believe Yijun's progress would not have been so definitive
had it not been for the belief and support of some teachers -
Cheng Kah Kee