Art Therapy As Intervention For Children With Autism
Autism is a mental condition that affects children from an early age. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that autism spectrum disorder affects 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls, and overall affects 1 in 68 children. There are many therapies that have been developed to help children cope with the condition such as Speech and Language therapy and Occupational Therapy, however some claim that art therapy is the most effective form of treatment for the disorder.
Autism is a lifelong mental condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate and relate to other people. It is classed as a spectrum condition, which means that each individual is affected by the condition in different ways, and it is more mild in some than in others. For example, some may be able to live independent lives despite the condition, but some may need a lifelong dependency on a carer.
There is research to suggest that autism has links with early brain development, however symptoms of autism tend to manifest in a person when they are around 12 to 18 months old.
Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that relies on creativity expressed through making art to improve physical or mental well-being. It usually involves expression through art media such as painting, drawing or modeling to achieve its goals, and is used as treatment for many conditions.
Art Therapy for Autism
Art Therapy for children with autism has been claimed to be an effect form of treatment, however, the research into this effectiveness is sparse, although there have been some links to suggest art therapy can improve the ability to imagine and think, recognize and response to facial expressions and develop the ability to manage sensory issues for those with autism.
The rationale behind art therapy applied to those with autism is that sufferers, particularly children, have a hard time expressing themselves verbally as well as processing faces and body language. However, there is plethora of research to suggest that those with autism possess better visual processing in the brain, than those without autism, as well as excelling at recognizing patterns. Children with autism are given limited opportunities to express themselves with the one form that they excel at, as it is assumed someone struggling with verbal communication is inept in other areas. This is where art therapy comes in; as it is assumed that giving children with autism a visual medium to freely express themselves through can help them learn to cope with their condition better.
Autism is a disease that affects a small portion of children, and hence they are marginalized in their opportunities to express themselves. Art therapy offers these children a form through which they can learn to cope with their conditions.