Last night (Nov 26th), A Mother’s Wish had the opportunity to organise and subsidise a unique “me-time” experience for carers (parents and siblings) of individuals with autism through Michael Cheng’s "Exploring Identity in the Journey of Caregiving”. Modelled upon his work with adults in Personal Stories for a Sea of Change (please check it out), Michael uses elements like games and movements to get us to set aside our adult inhibitions and get in touch with our inner child and authentic self. It was a liberating platform for us carers who are often weighed down by our concerns to come together to “share” our experience in a fun, but still structured fashion, thanks to Michael’s firm and sensitive facilitation.
Through movements and human sculpturing, we carers got to reconnect with our previous life and identity before our special sons/siblings came into our lives, recognise our current roles, and conceptualise about our future selves. With Michael’s guidance, we were encouraged to verbalise our thoughts and feelings, with him helping us to reframe our perceptions. Though it was not easy to be completely forthcoming, the participants still shared some of their vulnerabilities and worries, which was amazing given that some of the participants only got to “know" each other during the session.
Both Michael and I consider this to be an encouraging baby step towards supporting carers in the journey of caregiving. In running the programme, we had not known how the participants would respond. Their wonderful participation offers a strong motivation for us to try to do more sessions, as we know that one session is unlikely to offer sufficient support for people to fully open up about their feelings. Thus, we hope that carers would be curious to join us if we were to plan more sessions in the future.
Special thanks to Michael, as well as our participants who created this beautiful art piece that sums up their hopes and dreams for their lives.