The wall of healing

Chalk It Up image

Chalk It Up

“Chalk It Up”

The outside of our house looks like any other small town country home. There are a lot of trees, Bikes laying in the yard, cats chasing squirrels, and of course our dogs running around the yard.  We have a mix match set of chairs on the porch and I really need to take those Christmas lights down but they’ve been there for two years so why start now. Then you walk in to the living room and that’s where the conversation starter hits you.

Our living room entrance and hallways are known by our workers as “The Wall”. Now what we did is not for everyone, it takes a tremendous amount of “hey it’s no big Deal” to do what did. We took one wall in the side of the living room and the hallway and painted it a dark Blue color. No we are not UK fans, and you may have seen plenty of blue walls so what’s the big deal? Well ours are full of chalk drawings. Yes, we use the walls as chalkboards and let the kids draw on them.  Why? You may ask.  Well here’s the story.

We have three autistic kids in our home. Our daughter and two Foster Boys. The boys came to us non –verbal. They knew sign language and a few words but primarily they didn’t speak or if they did it was difficult to understand. . We did a crash course on basic signing but needed to get more from the kids to help them. We decided to Paint the walls. We gave them chalk and let them draw whatever they wanted on them.  Initially we just saw things that we figured they liked such as dinosaurs, cars, food, just random things. After a while we saw patterns that they were doing. Our daughter would draw with them and she would ask what some of the pictures were.  Slowly the boys began talking more and more, and telling stories of their drawings. We saw that the T-Rex dinosaur was always mean to the smaller dinosaurs. If they wanted something they would draw it and we would work with them to tell us in words what they wanted. We learned quite a bit about their lives from these drawings and some of their fears and trauma.

Fast forward about a year after they were placed. Both boys speak in full sentences, the one never stops talking, I guess he’s playing catch up for the years he didn’t.  Now after almost 3 years they are doing amazing! We still have “the Wall”. Now the three of them use it more for a way to vent and to calm down and deal with their Autism. It also helps on those rainy days and winter break. We also play classroom and they don’t realize they having fun while they learn.  So is this a solution for everyone. Probably not. But “The Wall” has been an amazing tool in our home and I just wanted to share it.

John Salisbury

Foster Parent

New Beginnings Family Services Recruiter