Multiple Benefits of Teaching Art to Children with Autism by Caroline F. Butson

Here is my answer to the question asked of me this week by a University of Arizona student for her research paper:

All children receive many benefits on multiple levels from art education whether they are on the autism spectrum or not.  However for the autistic child art education is vital for their growth and development.  Autistic children learn best when learning is visual and by making learning fun.  Besides being a tool for helping the autistic child express themselves the Arts and Music are also a multi-sensory experience engaging the student with all of their senses; visually as well as through touch, smell and sound.  Teaching must be creative and any subject can be taught using art as a tool, including the maths and sciences.

How does art education most benefit the autistic student?
I would say that the healing aspect of art is most beneficial in that it develops the inner realm of the child and will help them discover who they truly are and how they fit into the world around them.  Art will help them gain self confidence and self esteem which will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  They often get the message that they are different, have a disorder, have an ‘incurable disease’, that they don’t fit in socially to the mainstream.  Children with autism are just as much a part of society as so called ‘typical’ kids especially nowadays there are millions of children world wide being diagnosed on the autism spectrum.  Art will help them feel connected to the world around them and to the people in their life; their family and peers in and out of school.   Art is therapeutic in and of itself because it is heals on every level physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

A lot depends on how art education is taught.  When the teacher can encourage the students and allow them freedom of expression they can play a positive role just as a negative critical teacher can discourage self expression and turn the student off art and make them feel inadequate or shamed.  It is necessary therefore that the teacher nourish there own creative expression so that they can be in a better position to help the autistic child with theirs.  It is important that the teaching goes both ways; that the student learns from the teacher and the teacher must also learn from the student.

Of course the autistic student will learn basic skills like listening and following directions and using materials properly but the child with autism often does not or cannot understand words so as a teacher you have got to communicate what you want them to learn in other ways.  The teacher has got to be creative in getting across the lesson in creative ways other than verbally. If the student has not got the lesson then you have to find another way to get the lesson across.

If you have another question or comment please send it to me below or the Contact page.  Enjoy…Caroline

Teaching Children with Autism Art Education by Caroline F. Butson

I have recently been asked by a student at Arizona State University for my thoughts about the main purpose or value of art education for students with different levels of autism and for those students without autism.  That is a great question!   What is the main value of art education? Well art education serves to develop the student as a human being first rather than using education to make the student conform to a mold to fit into society.  Art serves the development of the inner realm of the student, the development of the personality and the expression of the child on every level mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually whether they have autism or do not.

Art will be all the more beneficial for students with autism as it allows them a venue of expression which they may not otherwise have if they are not able to express themselves with words.   It builds self esteem and self confidence which they will access for the rest of their life.  Art education is necessary and extremely valuable for society as a whole not just for the individual with autism.  Let’s imagine a world where we are all creating great pieces of art, poetry, music and dance!



Children with Sensory Needs By Christopher Auer /TEACHING CHILDREN with AUTISM

Caroline’s Commentary:

According to Christopher Auer, sensory issues are experienced by 5% of the general population as well as by as many as 40% of children with autism.  It is important to be aware that this problem touches the general population and is not specific to children with autism.  If we can try to understand that some individuals are having difficulty processing sensory information and work together to overcome this challenge in a spirit of goodwill and respect that will make it easier for everyone concerned.

Children with Sensory Needs – The Misunderstood Five Percent of the General Population  By Christopher Auer

Many children, perhaps your own, exhibit difficulty processing sensory information including: touch, taste, smell, vision, and hearing. As many as 5% of the school age population exhibit characteristics of sensory processing disorder (SPD), sometimes known as sensory integration disorder.

Further, many children with autism, ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), learning disabilities have SPD coexisting or underlying these conditions. Research has shown that as many as 40% of children with ADHD display symptoms of SPD.

If you are a parent of a child with special needs, perhaps you are struggling with the added stresses this can have on the family.

  • Your family relationships may be affected.
  • Siblings may be envious of the extra attention provided to the child with special needs.
  • Mothers may feel that fathers are not involved.
  • Fathers may feel unfairly blamed, when in their opinion, they are struggling to support the family.
  • Extended relatives, while intending to provide support, may instead offer conflicting advice, or just not understand the needs of the child and the family.
  • An already tight family budget may be stretched even greater to cover the added expenses associated with providing the best possible care for the child with special needs, and the family as a whole.

Only by sharing information and working together can we have adequate recognition and support for those impacted by SPD. Search the internet. Resources exist on the internet through non-proft foundations, and parent connections groups. It is my hope that all children grow up with the courage and wisdom to share their natural talents for the betterment of the world,

…express understanding and respect for humanity

…appreciate and extend the work done by previous generations of people. Continue reading “Children with Sensory Needs By Christopher Auer /TEACHING CHILDREN with AUTISM”