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Dawn is a watercolor and collage artist, writer, Host of #JournalChat Live and Creative and Social Media Consultant. She enjoys sharing insights, humor, and encouragement as she shares from her life experiences. She enjoys keeping a journal and reading spiritual texts to help keep the light on. Hope you enjoy perusing the blog posts and in the process, get to know her a bit better. Enjoy your stay!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Reconnecting with My Son through The Birthday Wall

By Sarah Joyce Bryant
My seven-year-old son, Cody, was hospitalized in a residential psychiatric treatment facility for eight months. There were two months when his aggressive behavior was so severe it was determined he was not safe to come home for his bi-weekly weekend visits. We were left with ten minute phone calls each night, and two hour visits every other weekend. The unique bond that we had shared suffered tremendously. Cody refused to take my phone calls, and when I came to visit he was distant, not the loving, cuddly boy I knew. I believed because of his Asperger’s, I had just become a person who visited him, not someone he really knew and loved. He started to call me by my first name. I was no longer mommy. Description: http://motheringaspergers.wordpress.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wpgallery/img/t.gif
Cody’s birthday was coming up, so I started reading “The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child” by Dawn Herring. Herring focuses on learning what is important to your child and what your child loves and making a beautiful birthday banner that celebrates your child using the things you’ve discovered. Displaying the banner on their birthday shows that you know who they are and you are listening. It is a keepsake for them, something they can look back on years from now and have a sense of who they have been and who they are now. I didn’t get a chance to make a birthday wall for Cody the way Herring suggested, but her book sparked an idea. Instead of making a birthday wall that Cody wouldn’t be able to display in the hospital, I decided to put it all into a binder with each page depicting a special time we had spent together over the last year or something special about him.
Cody with his Birthday Wall Binder

Cody's Favorite Things in his Birthday Wall Binder

The day I brought him the binder, his entire face lit up. He went through each page and read all about himself and his family. It was the first time in months he spent the entire visitation with me. He was so proud of it that he walked around showing all the staff. It was a reminder to him that I loved him, that I was listening to him, and that I knew who he was. Our relationship changed after that. He started taking my phone calls again. He started to call me mommy again. He had something beautiful to look at every day that was all about him, but that also served to remind him of his family and the times we had spent together and how much we loved him. He still goes through the binder even though he is at home now. Each time he has the same reaction of pure joy.
I am so appreciative to Dawn Herring for creating such an amazing book that helps parents celebrate their children. I am so grateful that it had such a positive impact on my son when nothing else seemed to work. He needed me to SHOW him that I loved him because words were not enough.

Editor's Note: This story was shared by Sarah Joyce Bryant who purchased my e-book, The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child; she took the idea of the Birthday Wall display and put it in binder form for her son. This shows there are different approaches you can take with The Birthday Wall and create a wonderful, self-esteem inducing effect for your child. Thanks to Sarah for sharing her story for her son Cody. 

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