Art Therapy and Autism

Art Therapy and Autism

Art therapy has been a long established treatment for various mental disorders ranging from Bi-Polar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. However, art therapy isn’t just for those suffering from mental disorders. Art therapists have long employed their methods to help those experiencing grief or bereavement overcome, as well as those recovering from events as diverse as divorce to abuse.

The American Art Therapy Association describes Art therapy as “a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.”

Through the creative process, bridges between different individuals are able to be formed and thoughts, feelings, and emotions, which would otherwise lack words, are able to be expressed. Thoughts and feelings that were once to painful or difficult to verbalize now have another outlet which can make many individuals less anxious and feel as though they are better able to connect with their surroundings.

According to numerous Healthcare News resources, art therapy has been incredibly beneficial to children suffering from autism as it effectively gives them an avenue for expression. As already known, most autistic children, with the exception of the highly functional, have difficulty speaking and connecting with those around them. Through art, they are allowed to convey how they experience the world. Jill Mullin’s book, Drawing Autism, actually contain a collection of artwork done by those with autism which reflects how they see the world.

Although art therapy is a relatively new form of therapy as it was introduced in the 1950s, it has recently become more accepted and highly valued in the therapeutic and medical community. Many health care insurances now cover the costs of seeing such therapists, and many medical centers now try to keep an art therapist in-residence. Art therapy is no longer for those suffering from severe mental disorders. It’s becoming a common and highly integrated treatment option for numerous mental and physical ailments.

If you have an autistic child, consider speaking with an art therapist in your area. You may find that you are able to connect with your child in a way you never thought possible, and you may open them up to a whole new world.

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