Art therapy is therapy that channels deep emotions with people, and easing stress, pain, and loss through a process. Therapists use it as guidance in order to communicate and support their patients. Art therapy now is a new realm, people still don’t quite understand why and how therapeutic art making actually works for its patients. It is now being widely used in clinical, educational, human service and private practice settings. There is no doubt the therapy is effective since it brings positive results for people with stress, traumatic experiences, and relationship problems.
Autism spectrum disorder-ASD is a complicated disorder that hinders development of brain. This disorder is mainly due to the fact that the patients have difficulties in interacting and communicating. ASD can be linked with intellectual disability and health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. The signs tend to show among children at age of two and three. Studies show that autism is more common among boys than girls. It has also been noted in the studies that autism has been identified around 1 in 88 American children. This is a magnanimous increase in occurrence in 40 years (Betts 27).
For children, who have autistic problem, they often respond well to visual, concrete and cooperative therapies. Communication is the biggest challenge for both patients and therapists. These children have difficulty in expressing themselves, which made the whole communication part extremely hard. Therapists need to understand precisely what “communication” means, not only just the word they said or the image they created. Therapists need to be extremely observant. Watching these kids’ daily routine, behavior, and body language helps a lot with a better understanding of the truth of patients’ expression. Moreover, providing an additional method for interpersonal interaction such as performance and group project also helps understand autism. With regard to autistic children, art therapy can help in increasing personal and communication skills, developing a sense of distinctiveness and individuality, building of relationships, and providing a platform for sensory integration (Betts 26).
What are the art making processes that are commonly being used in autism? How exactly does this work? For example, before the therapists go further to explore the autistic child individuality; they might start with group project instead of one-on-one section. They start asking children to create images related to one theme. Let these kids sit together and introduce their theme or project. Therapist will show images that are related to the theme, and offer a variety of pre-cut papers, small fun objects and drawing materials. Then, children will be invited to help each other and create a group poster by adding their own interpretation of the theme. Moreover, free time will be offered in order for children to play creatively with sensory materials. The goals for the therapy are to help children develop sense of collaboration, social skills and group awareness. The second goal is to teach them choice making about the materials, in order for them to be able to express creatively. All these methods will eventually make the autistic child accept the therapeutic relationship to continue .
Betts, D. J. (2005). The art of art therapy: Drawing individuals out in creative ways. Advocate: Magazine of the Autism Society of America, 26-27
Nicole Martin (2009). Art as an Early Intervention Tool for Children with Autism. ISBN: 9781849058070
What is Autism? n.d. Web. 20 March 2014.
Rudy, Lisa Jo. Art Therapy Autism - Art Therapy as a Treatment for Autism. 22 February 2010. Web. 20 March 2014.