It’s especially fulfilling to hear accounts of StickTogether projects fostering interpersonal connections and collective achievement by bridging differences for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Some type of ASD affects about 1 in 59 children, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That same 2018 data revealed that boys were four times more likely than girls to be working through the challenges of this complex developmental disability. But research shows that therapy that involves working on fine motor skills and group interaction can bring positive benefits across the board.
We’ve seen for ourselves what happens when kids with special needs gravitate to the StickTogether activity; they tend to help others join and socialize while working on the color-coded colorful puzzle mosaics.
Both teachers and parents have shared with us other observations on the benefits of inclusion:
Leveling classroom playing fields
“StickTogether closed the gap between the students in our inclusion classroom,” said Hawaii teacher Miko S. “Where sometimes students are separated because of what they can or cannot do, once I presented this project and explained our community task, the playing field was leveled.”
She said students that had unique learning goals were indistinguishable from other learners.
“It was beautiful,” she said.
Children on the Autism Spectrum may have difficulty with interpersonal relationships, social interactions, and communication, but the vibrant StickTogether mosaic puzzles have also proven to parents that families don’t have to plan multiple activities for children of differing abilities. Instead, they can use one that all can enjoy at the same time.
A special treat for the WHOLE family
Noelle is the mother of 10-year-old Charlie and his younger brother named Tom. Charlie is on the high-functioning side of the spectrum, she said, and though 7-year-old Tom is not autistic, he can sometimes become frustrated with being the youngest.
“Having the StickTogether puzzles has been a wonderful way for everyone in our family to do something together, and Charlie tends to talk more than usual while we are doing this activity,” Noelle said.
As for Tom, who can be slower because he is younger, she said, “the stick together images make him feel successful. “
The family uses the puzzles to bond and remember family trips or holiday memories. They plan on working on an image of a famous painting like Mona Lisa or Girl with the Pearl Earring that hangs in the National Art gallery—in anticipation of a future trip.
“We've been starting to gravitate to puzzles that involve our kids’ interests or something we share—for example, in 2018, we took a trip to South Dakota, so afterward, as a special treat, we purchased the large format Mount Rushmore,” Noelle said. “We are always looking for ways to incorporate the image we pick into something we just did or plan to do.”
They’ll be able to keep creating new ones too, as Stick Together continually creates new mosaic images.
How it’s done
The fun comes in creating the mosaic. At first, the blank canvas is a mystery. Many people choose NOT to show the final image to the participants, so they can keep guessing.
So how does it work? Simply choose your favorite image from our vast selection of affordable kits.
Inside the kit is a coded poster grid, a simple color key—and lots and lots of stickers. Unfold the poster and attach it to a wall or place it on a large, flat surface. Place the color key nearby. Grab some stickers. Match up the colors on the grid to the letters in the color key. Then ‘sticker’ away!
Work at it a little at a time or all at once as a big project.
Standard format mosaic puzzles are 40” x 36” and come with nearly 4,000 stickers. Large formats are 60” x 36” and contain more than 7,000 sticker pixels.
Students will be practicing and improving their fine motor skills, visual tracking, eye-hand coordination, and social interactions.
Best of all, it levels the playing field so EVERYONE, of all abilities and personalities, can relax and create something beautiful, and anticipate the completion of the picture.
Then, sit back and enjoy the magical moment when the creators can take pride in their final work of art!
Share your own StickTogether story here. You might see it on our Facebook or Twitter pages or featured in a blog post.