by Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- A new type of artwork is on the rise in the Basin and it's not just for show. It's called Mneme (pronounced "Nemma") therapy, and it's being used to help all people, young and old, who are dealing with brain diseases and disorders.
Eight year-old Jayden Allbright is one of the growing number of kids in the Basin with autism. His mother, Julie Allbright, is a special needs teacher. She says, "This is something I taught. I didn't think it was something I was going to have to deal with, personally."
Before Jayden was even diagnosed, his mother could tell he was a little different, so she started him in a variety of therapies.
"Occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy," Allbright said. Then, she found out about Mneme, a type of art that gives you more than a pretty painting.
"We're trying to re-map the brain," local Mneme Teacher, Megan Miller, said.
Miller recently started teaching Mneme in the Basin and it's taking off.
"Everything that I do is designed to stimulate the left and right sides of the brain. We know the brain can repair itself so we're trying to create an environment that's conducive to that," Miller said.
The entire process is meant to engage the brain, from the process of picking out pictures to the types of brush strokes used.
Allbright says, "His language has increased every time you show him one of his paintings and ask him to talk about it. He draws upon prior experiences he's had and he really pours that into his artwork."
Jayden's verbal skills have blossomed.
We asked him, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" He told us, "A cowboy!" We ask, "Why?" He replies, "So I can feed horses some hay."
Miller's clients include Alzheimer's patients and stroke survivors. Yet now, more than ever, she's seeing a growing number of autistic kids.
"My practice is primarily children because there is such a demand. People are looking for answers and hope and things that will help their child," Miller said.
Miller is the only one doing this in the Basin. She was the first to bring it to Texas and is one of only 29 qualified Mneme teachers in the country. She loves art, but her passion for this comes from more than that.
"I have a 12 year-old son who has Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. He's not autistic but he does have some of the similarities," Miller said.
Improvements won't happen overnight. Every client is different. However, parents say they know this is working.