I interviewed a mother from Brunel Experts by Experience Committee (BEC) member, who receives support from social services for her son with autistic spectrum disorder. During our first meeting she shared her experiences of social services.
Her experiences conveyed her resilience as she advocated for her son to ensure he had to access to services. For example, she stated that she was transparent and honest of her expectations when working collaboratively with professionals. The BEC member's experience encouraged me to develop resilience by working collaboratively and positively with professionals and people with lived experiences.
A particular story that stood out for me during the meeting was when she shared her son having a meltdown in costa coffee. He spilt his coffee and was met with disapproving looks from the staff. However, she supported her son by calming him down whilst educating onlookers about her son's additional needs. Her story highlights the strength of a mother's love that protects and promotes her son's welfare.
Her experiences inspired me to create a painting that conveyed her remarkable strength as a mother. I decided to create a long-standing painting using reliable materials, including canvases and acrylic paint. I incorporated bright, vibrant colours to symbolize the positive journey that mother and son embarked on to ensure son's needs are met. I specifically selected colours representing autism awareness day which were yellow, blue, purple red and green. Autism awareness day is a day dedicated to raising awareness about individuals with an autistic spectrum disorder. It is an official day that autism organizations come together from around the world to discuss research, acceptance and treatments.
I met with the mother on a virtual platform to receive her feedback on my final draft of the art piece. During the meeting, the mother consented to sharing the painting and her feedback on the art piece. She expressed that she felt connected to the vibrant colours of the artwork. The image painted was a female holding an umbrella for a male with a background of large blue raindrops and a heart centring the painting. I was informed that she identified with the painting as the umbrella symbolized her protection and maternal love for her son. The BEC member comments confirmed that I portrayed what I intended to in the painting. A resilient mother who provides support that improves her son's well-being and aids him to overcome adversities he may face.
Additionally, she revealed that the painting triggered a recent memory of her son having a meltdown whilst crossing the road due to disliking the feeling of the rain on his skin. The BEC member recalled how she supported her son by implementing a strategy that she learnt from attending her sons and her own therapies, such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). In this instance, she encouraged her son to go for small walks to prevent him from developing a fear of walking triggered by his negative experience of the rain. Her memory inspires future practitioners to implement interventions that best suits an individual's interests. The mother’s story aided me to recognize that this was achievable by adopting relationship-focused social work practice to identify a person's needs thus, implementing appropriate strategies that best suit their needs.
The painting reflects the mother’s determination to seek the best for her son. The umbrella symbolized her maternal love protecting her son from the rain that symbolised life adversities he faced due to his complex needs.