How Art Therapy Can Help Autistic Children

How Art Therapy Can Help Autistic Children

Most people with ASD are visual thinkers, and children on the autism spectrum frequently express themselves with colorful artwork. By incorporating art therapy for autism, children can benefit in a variety of ways. Read on to learn how art therapy activities might benefit your child. 

“Art can permeate the very deepest part of us, where no words exist.” – Eileen Miller, The Girl Who Spoke with Pictures: Autism Through Art

What Art Therapy Does

Verbal and social communication are difficult for many autistic children. Art therapy bypasses the need for words and allows children to use their visual thinking skills.

Children who can’t communicate verbally are capable of a great deal, and art is their way to show it. Making a space for autistic children to be creative allows them to express themselves while improving their imagination. You can also take the opportunity to:

Build motor skills

Work on verbal communication in small steps

Teach sensory regulation

How is Art Therapy Different from an Art Class?

While art classes may unintentionally provide some of the same benefits as art therapy, they aren’t the same thing. Art classes are more focused on artistic goals, like learning how to paint a still-life. This can help children increase their artistic skills, but it does not have the same effect as art therapy.

Art therapy is designed to encourage children to access their emotions. It also can help kids work toward specific goals, such as better managing sensory issues.

Artistic Activities for Children with Autism

There are a ton of great artistic activities for autistic children. We’ve narrowed it down to a few of our favorites.

And, if you’re interested in additional art therapy activities for autism, remember to choose ideas that allow your kids to experience their senses in calm ways. 

Visit our marketplace to see the art and music toys we’ve curated with art therapy in mind.

Play-Doh Sculpting

Sculpting has a lot of possibilities, and it’s an easy way to work in 3D, which is exciting for many kids. In addition, Play-Doh is a great material for sensory play. You can buy Play-Doh or make your own.

Finger Painting with Gloves

Finger painting is a classic artistic activity, but for many autistic children, it may be uncomfortable. You can get the same results without the sensory problems by using latex or nitrile gloves. If you want to avoid a mess, bring the art supplies outside. 

Sand Art

If your children perform repetitive behaviors, they may find sand art very therapeutic. Sand art involves a picture with paper that covers up sticky sections. When you peel off the paper, your child can sprinkle colored sand on the sticky sections. This allows for all sorts of creative possibilities! 

Getting the Best Results

Please visit  our Resources page to see if there are art therapists in your area. Working with professionals is a smart way to set your children up for success.

If you want to use this as at-home therapy for autism, there are a few things to keep in mind for the best results.

Whenever you have an art therapy session, keep the same structure and routine.

Avoid abrupt transitions to new activities.

Give instructions clearly and concisely.

It’s important to avoid being too commanding, but you should provide some structure. You should also be considerate of your child’s response to sensory stimulation. Pull back if you notice your child being over-stimulated.

Of course art therapy is not the only type of therapy available.  Check out these videos in our free Video Library to see the many therapeutic options available to children with autism.

Your friends at Ability Life Solutions are here to give you as many tools as possible, from art therapy for autism to other useful resources. Worry less, live more. We hope this article was helpful—let us know what artistic activities you try with your children on the spectrum on Facebook!

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