Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Art Therapy and Autism

Art therapy, has its origin in psychotherapy, thus plays a significant role in the treatment of children and teens diagnosed with ASD. Images and art making is naturally a safe way for children and teens to communicate and relate to the world around them. (Kramer, 1971; Lowenfeld & Brittain, 1964; Meyerowitz-Katz, 2003; Waller, 2006). When this experience is shared and facilitated by a professional art therapist, a meaningful opportunity is provided for the individual to express their psychological needs that often go unaddressed by other forms of therapies (Martin, 2009).  This use of nonverbal expression and the rich experience of utilizing visual modalities to stimulate cognitive, emotional and social development is what sets art therapy a part from similar professions (Gilroy, 2006; Martin, 2009).

Art therapists do not simply assign therapeutic directives; rather, by establishing a trusting relationship, they work jointly with the individual-sensitively guiding the art making to contribute to a positive change in their social behaviour, emotional expression, focus attention, self-regulation, flexibility, problem solving, communication skills, self-awareness and self-esteem (Martin, 2009; Pioch, 2010; Schweizer, 2014).

As Art therapy provides an fundamental avenue for the individual to understand and express their inner thoughts and emotions, it is crucial to consider this form of treatment in order to serve all aspects of the teen or child’s holistic development.