When your child has an autism diagnosis, just getting through a typical day can be pretty challenging. The idea of introducing artistic creativity into the mix can seem unnecessary or even overwhelming.
However, research has shown that dance, music, and visual art can improve kids’ lives on the spectrum. Not only can they help improve your child’s social skills and engagement, but active participation in community arts programs can enhance inclusion, self-confidence, and communication.
This post explores the numerous benefits, as well as a few ways you can help your child explore the arts.
What are the benefits of art for a child with autism?
For the kids and teens who are intrigued by creative self-expression, music and visual art have a wide range of benefits that are tough to find anywhere else. Depending on the individual, a few benefits can include:
Self-expression doesn’t require verbal communication. Kids with autism may have difficulty with expressing themselves verbally, as many are nonverbal. The arts can provide a tool for expression that’s accessible, without the means to have a discussion. And since many autistic children have strong skills in artistic expression, it can make them feel more self-confident and help their communication skills.
Opportunities for social growth. Artistic activities are often communal—such as band, dance teams, art classes, or theater. They require a certain degree of interaction that’s different from an average classroom experience.
Opportunities to build on strengths. Children with autism are judged for what they can’t do and taught to “catch up” with others from the time they are diagnosed. In the arts, however, children with autism often have the edge. Many are pretty talented in drawing, music, and even drama.
Opportunities for genuine inclusion. It’s challenging to have a child with autism feel fully included in social activities and programs. However, in the arts, kids with autism can feel just as included in a group of peers.
Lifelong interests to enjoy and share. Kids with autism constantly learn new, complex skills to outgrow the need for them as they move through childhood and into adulthood. For example, social skills for kids in kindergarten are irrelevant to those in the third grade. Arts interests and skills, however, are relevant for life.
Tips for helping your child explore the arts
While every child and parent are different, your child’s method may depend on their current skill set, interests, and behaviors. There are, however, ways to ensure they get the most out of any creative artistic experience.
Give your child a head start. If your child shows an interest in music or art, don’t wait until they get older. Get them started as early as possible so that they’re ready to join their peers when the time comes.
Take advantage of special programs at art museums, music venues, and theaters. If a special needs arts program is being offered, take your child. Even if the experience isn’t ideal or goes as planned the first time, your child will start to learn what it means to sit in an audience, watch a performance, participate in a creative workshop, or otherwise engage in community arts.
Have artistic materials at home. Whether it’s crayons and paper, an electric keyboard, or a full-blown creativity room in your home, have a few materials available for your child to play with and explore. Work together on art projects that you both enjoy doing so they start to view art as a positive activity and a way to spend time with you.
Getting additional support
To call or request an appointment at Abbey Neuropsychological Clinic for help with these conditions. The exceptional team at Abbey Neuropsychology Clinic in Palo Alto, California, has devoted years to working with children on the autism spectrum.
They begin with a comprehensive assessment and use that information to create multisensory treatment plans grounded in goals that build on your child’s strengths and help them overcome their weaknesses. If you have questions about autism or you need to schedule an appointment, call the office today.
The clinic is now offering telehealth to clients in Palo Alto, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Woodside, Menlo Park, Atherton, Napa, Orinda, Hillsborough, Belvedere Tiburon, Blackhawk, Noe Valley, Malibu, Beverly Hills, and La Jolla.
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