Art Therapy and Autism

December 23, 2014

One of the hallmarks of autism spectrum disorders is difficulty with verbal and social communication. Finding ways practice those skills in a non-threatening manner is ultimate  goal of most specialists and therapists working with children on the spectrum.  One method that is used is art therapy.  Don’t think arts and crafts.  Think instead a very specialized therapy to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of children and teens with autism.

How Art Therapy can help – For children with social and emotional struggles, art therapy can help develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and improve self-awareness.  Let’s look at the specifics of art therapy’s benefits.

  • A Communication Tool – Verbal communication is a challenge for a many children on the spectrum. Art can give those children a method of communication.  Through art children can express anger, joy, and even loneliness.
  • A Self-Regulation Tool –  Through art, instead of biting his hand or slapping his face when he gets upset, children can now squeeze a ball of clay. When he/she feels strange sensations, play with water or sand can help the body adjust.
  • Improved Sensory Issues – Sticky glue, wet paint and goopy clay can be hurtles that a child on the spectrum will find a way over.  Art therapy can help a child manage those feelings.
  • Fine Motor Control – Working with clay, paints, brushes and other art supplies can give great practice for fine motor control.

If you are looking for a board certified Art Therapists here are some great links to get you started.