FOR inanimate objects, Shelley Moses's puppets have a remarkable ability to traverse communication barriers and bring out the best in people.
The Ocean Shores puppet therapist, who was trained by Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets and the Sesame Street puppets, recalled one particular encounter with an autistic boy who had never spoken before making his own puppet.
"He was 21, he was severely autistic and when he had made his puppet, that night when he came home the puppet leant over the counter and said 'what's for dinner, mum?'," Ms Moses said.
"She had been waiting 21 years to hear him speak."
Ms Moses said the puppets could also help dementia patients move out of negative mindsets.
She said in one case, a puppet helped a woman with dementia get past a horrific and recurring memory.
"In dementia, as they deteriorate, if they haven't dealt with something severe, like rape in an institution in this case, suddenly the brain's going off and she's locked in this memory," Ms Moses said.
"When she (the dementia patient) met the little baby puppet she jumped out of herself and suddenly she was back and the memory never came back."
Ms Moses said a lot of her puppets have been used as tools for communication in child protection cases in Aboriginal communities where the puppets speak from the child's point of view about domestic violence and abuse.
"The puppets have their own little histories and they've found that really effective in creating change for adult groups because they now have more empathy for the children," she said.
"We've had children disclose things to the puppet, like abuse, because no-one told them not to tell the puppet."
Ms Moses said her passion for puppets sprung from her career as a teacher.
She said it was like finding another way to get messages through to children using the creative arts.
Ms Moses said she was one of a few puppeteers to have had the privilege of being taught by Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets and Sesame Street.
She said his golden rule was that "the puppet does not know it's a puppet".
Ms Moses currently volunteers her puppet therapy at the Coolamon Villa Catholic Health Care centre in Mullumbimby.
Shelley Moses will be holding a one-day puppet-making workshop in Ocean Shores on Sunday, June 21, from 9am to 4pm.
The cost is $250 and includes all materials and puppet clothes as well as lunch.
To book, phone Ms Moses on 6680 5895 or email email@example.com
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