By Jane Sandwood for the Vauxhall Advance
There is a great deal of scientific evidence now which shows that art therapy can greatly improve the quality of life as well as help manage symptoms for people with a range of different conditions and health care needs.
Research shows that art therapy can help people on the autism spectrum learn how to better manage and process their emotions as well as improve their social skills.
This article will look at why art therapy is such a great tool for helping people on the autism spectrum communicate.
Art therapy and autism – why it’s useful
According to the American Art Therapy Association, “the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behaviour, reduce stress, increase self-esteem, and self-awareness, and achieve insight.”
Art therapy is considered particularly useful to aid the social and emotional development of people with autism as autistic people tend to have many needs in the areas that are mentioned. In fact, many studies have shown that using art as a means to selfexpression for people with autism can help to greatly improve their physical, mental and social wellbeing.
Opening the doors to communication
As verbal communication can be impaired to varying degrees for people with autism, providing other creative outlets as a means to communication and self-expression is important, particularly for people with autism who are non-verbal or who have very little speech.
It provides people with autism with a platform to express and explore their thoughts, feelings and ideas in a creative way and in a controlled environment.
Exposure to a range of different art and materials is beneficial
The beauty of art is that there is so much scope in terms of the range of different art materials and styles that are available for people to try. Exposing people with autism to a range of different art materials and styles is beneficial as it can help them learn how to cope better with unexpected situations.
Also, trying out different art styles such as drawing and sketching or painting can help people with autism to improve their fine and gross motor skills, which could help improve their coordination and ability to perform more complex tasks. Over time this could help amplify their social life as with improved motor skills and coordination they would be able to participate in more sports and activities.
Art is a natural progression for the autistic mind
Research shows that many people with autism are highly intelligent and creative, and that they tend think in pictures. This is why art therapy is thought to be a highly valuable outlet for people with autism as it provides them with the opportunity to process and understand the world in a way that they can relate to and understand, as well as being able to develop and nurture any creative or artistic abilities that they may have.
Creating art therefore can help give people with autism a voice by providing the opportunity for them to express themselves and process their thoughts in a different way. Not only that, but it is also of course a very soothing and therapeutic activity which can help to calm and settle and provide relief from a busy mind.