Autism is a term used to describe certain neuro development disorders that typically manifest during infancy or childhood. Autism is characterized by problems in communication and social interaction, certain repetitive behaviors, and other symptoms. Poor motor planning, toe walking and poor muscle tone, are some of the physical characteristics frequently seen in autistic individuals.
Importance of art in autism management
Dependence upon care givers, poor quality of life and family distress is often seen in families with autistic children. So the aim of autism management is to try and enable an autistic child to gain a degree of independence, acquire life skills and improve communication and social interaction to the extent possible.
Early childhood interventions are thought to be most effective for children with autism; particularly the integration of art into therapy or education. It has been observed that autistic kids are drawn to art and may want to engage in artistic activities; however they may be unable to do so unless appropriately guided. In fact art is seen to be a good outlet for some of the issues that autistic kids experience. It is also thought that engaging in artistic activities could help in rehabilitation and that it could help improve certain processes in the brain.
Art activities that may help autistic children
Finger painting: Finger painting is a simple and enjoyable artistic endeavor for a child. It can be very satisfying for an autistic child to have used their own hands to create something visual; which is also vivid and colorful.
Clay modeling: One simple activity is clay modeling. This is something that a child will start to enjoy as soon as he or she is old enough to grasp and manipulate objects. Clay is enjoyable because it can be squished, pressed and shaped any which way. Some types, known as play doh are the sort that dry after some hours and can be painted to become handmade toys. Other types don’t dry out and can be reused. Clay is good particularly for those autistic kids who don’t enjoy a mess; those who have challenges relating to sensory processing.
Sensory tub: A sensory tub or table can be a great way to help a child be creative. A child can dig, pour, sift, sort, squish and discover. It engages several senses all at once and can be a very enjoyable activity.
Paper shreds: Art with paper shreds is another interesting artistic activity. Take old newspapers, colored sheets and discarded wrapping papers. Have the child shred this as they want. Then use these shreds to create interesting an interesting collage on paper.