Since I first started working with ASD students, and hearing first hand from them how much they felt art was relaxing and helping them concentrate on life, I’ve had so many questions from parents in regards to how art can help their child.
My mini-artist sessions (both one-on-one and group classes) now consist of kids with aspergers, anxiety, ADD, hyperactivity and some who are just extremely shy. My classes are also filled with such a huge range of characters, some who have told me they “don’t fit in with the normal kids”, some who have a normally interactive social life, and some who use my art classes as a chance to let their “real self be set free because no one in here cares if you’re weird.” The resounding feeling in every session I teach is that mini-artists feel safe to be just whoever it makes them happiest to be when they are doing art, because art can be ANYTHING so why shouldn’t they?
This is important for all kids to feel, but more particularly for those mini-artists who have been through trauma, or living their life with a disability or disorder. An important step in overcoming these issues, is knowing there’s no expectation on them to repress any parts of their character that may not match up to social expectations.
Clinical therapies can be efficient for kids that have to deal with such things, but that might not be the best approach for them. In fact, many times the issue comes from communication and in that situation talking won’t really make things easier. Creative therapies can offer a great supplement to clinical therapy and give the student another avenue of expression, where they can explore feeling that they may not have the verbal capacity or mental maturity to express.
Thanks to the aid offered by a therapist, kids have the ability to find the meaning of art, all while being able to create art on their own as they see fit. This helps art therapy become a one of a kind, refined creative outlet that delivers both value and a very good experience!
How can art therapy help a child?
There are many issues that can be addressed via art therapy, and these include:
– The death of a family member
– Behavioural problems
– The inability to understand physical disabilities
– Dealing with serious diseases
– Improving the cognitive abilities
Emotional problems and phobias
Childhood trauma caused by various factors
How does art therapy work?
The art therapist offers a range of materials to the child, who is then given free expression to do anything they want to do with them. The mere act of being free enough to create without boundaries can be enough to make the child feel accepted, and confident. Sometimes, if there is a deeper issue to deal with, the therapist may come up with some projects that are specific in nature to the issues that need addressing, however, the session is always guided by the child, to ensure they never feel any pressure or expectation to create a predetermined outcome.
How does it support children in learning?
As a child grows more confident through art, you will start to notice that they may become more confident or experimental with the supplies they choose, or their mark making methods. The more they realise there is no judgement on the outcome of their art, the quicker this will happen. This can overlap into their every day life, their schooling, their friendships and even their food choices for those who are picky eaters! Art therapy is designed to support creative expression, which ultimately means that the child is experiencing the ability to make their own decisions, ask questions, and experiment with how to use materials (and isn’t that just what you want for them in life!)
In addition to all that, children often find it easier to communicate using pictures. Limited vocabulary and limited life experience can often make it difficult for a child to put into words exactly what they are feeling. Getting lost in an abstract drawing, painting or sculpture taps into a part of our brain that doesn’t require words, and as such can be more authentic, as our messaging doesn’t get lost in the interpretation from feelings to words.
Aside from all of that, there’s no doubt that art relieves stress. So even if the only benefits you end up seeing is a child who is less anxious about their day to day life, it’s worth a shot right?
Artlis Studios offers art classes from 3years and up, which can be therapeutic in themselves, however if you are looking for an art therapist who is qualified to help your child, please contact us! We have a range of therapists working with us that we can recommend!