How Art & Art Therapy Can Benefit Autistic Children

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Art is one of the most powerful tools in the world. It can help us to cope with our hectic modern lives, and it also has a way of providing joy that goes beyond just entertainment.

Art and art therapy can benefit autistic children. Art is a way to express yourself, it can help you feel more comfortable in your own skin, and it can bring out new skills that are not accessible through other means.


For both children and adults, art therapy is a popular way to manage emotions, explore inner worlds, and release stress. It’s occasionally used as a supplement to other therapies for autistic youngsters.

To perform therapy, art therapists must be qualified by a board and licensed in their state. While there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness, there isn’t much study on how effectively art therapy works for children with autism right now.

Applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, which has a long history of treating developmental disorders and moderating maladaptive behaviors, is the most common treatment for autism. Other important therapies for autism include speech therapy and occupational therapy.

Art therapy isn’t often thought of as a major autism treatment, although it may be beneficial to autistic youngsters. Art therapy seems to function effectively as a supplemental treatment for autistic children, according to many research.

What Is Art Therapy and How Does It Work?

Art therapy is a professional approach that aims to help people express themselves better in a variety of situations. This method is used to treat persons suffering from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, sadness, or anxiety. It aids these persons in resolving certain bad feelings and examining the artwork’s psychological or emotional underpinnings.

The client develops works of art under the supervision of an art therapist who is certified to practice therapy at the state level and has been accredited by a certifying body. The therapist may then decipher the art’s meaning, frequently with the client present to discuss the artwork. Understanding what’s going on in the client’s subconscious might help them overcome underlying sentiments or issues.

It’s not about the end product when it comes to art therapy. It’s all about the steps that go into making anything.

If you’re searching for an art therapist, check sure they’re qualified and licensed to work in your state. Art therapy may be used in conjunction with other therapies for your kid in locations such as:

Is Art Therapy Effective in Treating Autism Symptoms?

Although there is minimal evidence of the usefulness of this therapy technique, it may assist to ease certain symptoms of physical or developmental problems.

Because art therapy hasn’t been well researched, it’s usually used in conjunction with other evidence-based treatments. Art therapy, for example, may be used by an applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapist to help a child reach a therapeutic objective, but it will not be the main form of treatment.

In a Session, What to Expect

A skilled and qualified art therapist leads a basic art therapy session. The therapist will usually spend the first session getting to know the client and determining the therapy objectives.

Autistic children’s objectives might include:

  • Improve your ability to control emotional outbursts.
  • Improve your communication skills.
  • Fine motor abilities should be developed.

After determining the therapy objectives, you will collaborate with the art therapist to develop a treatment plan. The importance of parental input in the treatment planning phase cannot be overstated.

The therapist will help your kid through making art at their ability level in the following sessions. Paints, markers, clay, construction paper, and other art supplies may be used. Although the therapist may document what they notice as the kid produces, the therapist will watch the work without passing judgment. If the kid gets irritated or easily distracted, for example, the therapist will find a method to redirect the child’s attention back to the artwork or suggest another technique to create art.

Younger children and nonverbal children may not be able to speak to the art therapist about memories or emotions linked with the work, while older children and nonverbal children may be able to.

The artwork might also be a reflection of something your youngster is obsessed with. An obsession on certain hobbies, to the expense of acquiring other, more general knowledge or associating with neurotypical classmates, is one hallmark of autism.

While parents may desire to steer their children away from this intense interest, some research suggests that nurturing this passion might benefit the kid later in life. In general, art therapists will encourage the kid to work on anything they are interested in.

What to Look for in a Visual Artist

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation certifies art therapists (CHEA). When looking for an art therapist, check for letters following their name to signify their degree of qualification. These are the following:

  • ATR stands for Art Therapy Credentials Board Registration (ATCB).
  • ATR-BC, which entails both ATR registration and passing the board-certified test.

Art therapy may be expensive out of pocket depending on where you live, where your kid gets art therapy, and how many sessions they attend each week. Art therapy is unlikely to be covered by insurance unless it is provided as part of a treatment plan, such as ABA therapy.

Confirm your coverage details with your insurance provider directly. Confirm that the therapist is in-network if they do provide some sort of coverage.

Guidelines for Best Practices

Although there are certifications and licenses for art therapists, there is not one specific approach to treating people with autism. One research team sought to develop Guidelines for Best Practices to help children with autism and suggested the following steps for art therapy sessions:

  • Continue with the same procedure at the start of the session.
  • Explain instructions in a logical and consistent manner.
  • Carefully and gradually transition from one activity to the next.
  • Use art as a way to pique your interest in learning new abilities.

The researchers also discovered that certain techniques were ineffective and even dangerous. These were the bad practices:

  • Being extremely commanding.
  • When it comes to instructions, being overly vague or loose is a big no-no.
  • Using art materials that are overstimulating, such as those with intense colors or textures.
  • Using communication styles to impose limitations.

Because being too direct and being too ambiguous are two of the harmful behaviors, art therapists must establish the correct balance in how they interact with each kid.

These suggestions are in keeping with ABA therapy, which helps children with autism acquire abilities in a goal-oriented, measured manner. Because art therapy does not have these precise requirements for autistic clients, it is often useful to have an art therapist work alongside an ABA therapist.

The Science of Art Therapy for Autistic Children

Through creative practice and self-expression, art therapy has the ability to improve functioning. While this is true for many clients, art therapy as a long-term treatment strategy for persons with autism does not have scientific validity. According to some study, art therapy may be an important component of ABA therapy, where it can be used as a reward for behavioral gains or as a tool to enhance socialization and communication skills.

Because more parents are interested in using art therapy to help their children, a systematic review of medical literature looked at data from 1985 to 2012 and looked at high-intelligence autistic children (up to 18 years old) who used art therapy.

Flexibility, relaxation, and self-image all appeared to benefit from art therapy. Children’s communication and learning abilities seemed to increase as well. According to the study, art therapy techniques enhanced communication and repeated behaviors in two areas of concern. The research did acknowledge, however, that there was insufficient evidence to support the use of art therapy as the primary or exclusive treatment method for autistic children.

Another study team looked at several trials on art therapy as a treatment for autism. Some parts of therapy, such as multisensory input from a variety of art materials and different aspects of producing art, were found to enhance well-being and some motor function abilities, according to these researchers. The panel also indicated that there was insufficient data to support this as a therapy, but that the available evidence may lead to further scientific research in the future.

Getting Your Child Art Therapy

Ask your ABA therapist or pediatrician about including art therapy into your kid’s overall treatment plan if you believe your child would benefit from it.

Art therapy has no age restrictions and may benefit everyone. It should not be used instead of or in lieu of evidence-based therapy or medical treatments, but it may be used in conjunction with them.

For autistic youngsters, even doing art outside of a treatment context might be useful. Parents may include art production into their children’s everyday lives. This helps autistic youngsters to have fun while still learning new skills.


Art is a great way to relieve stress, and autistic children can benefit greatly from art therapy. Art has been shown to help with anxiety, aggression, and depression. Art also helps to develop social skills. Reference: how art relieves stress.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an art How?

A: An art is any tangible, visible object that is created with the intention of being appreciated aesthetically.

How do I start doing art?

A: In order to start doing art, you need supplies. You can buy these on Etsy or online. As for the means of practice, there are some great tutorials out there that will help teach you how to get started in your journey into painting and drawing!

How art can help you analyze Amy Herman?

A: Art can help provide a different perspective on Amy Herman, the interviewee. It is not always possible to gain all of your information from just speaking with someone and art provides an interesting new way for people to learn about their lives.

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