A picture is worth a thousand words. To a non-verbal, special needs child, the benefits of pictures and art go far beyond words:
Art provides special needs kids the chance to creatively communicate thoughts and feelings when they don’t have the words to express them. For example, Valentine’s Day is a great time for special needs children and their families to use art for loving self expression.
Art stimulates the senses! The eyes feast on color while the hands revel in self-directed movement. Choosing between crayons or paints, blue or red, circle or square, in a situation guaranteeing success, is empowering and builds confidence. Varying mediums teaches texture. Sponge painting feels very different from finger painting. And, sculpting with clay feels very different from either of those.
Art develops motor skills. Small muscles in the hands and larger ones in the arms get a work out during coloring, painting, gluing, or molding. Encouraging staying on the paper or coloring within the lines nurtures hand-eye coordination. Core and leg muscles develop when art is done on an easel or window.
Art exposure creates new visual imagery in the brain. This is especially advantageous for individuals with autism as they “think in pictures”. The more visual imagery the greater ability to communicate. Children’s museums welcome special needs visitors and often have special events for individuals with autism and other special needs including blindness. (Cool, huh?!)Art builds peer relationships and enhances social skills. Kids mutually engaged in the creative process learn about making choices, problem solving, teamwork, and sharing. They also become more aware of their personal preferences. Successful self expression builds self confidence. Confident kids positively and powerfully engage in their world.
Art strengthens families. The family gallery tells its story and records its history. Ours was the refrigerator. Every year, crayon drawings of Michigan Fall gave way to construction paper turkeys. Santa Claus projects to red and pink tissue paper covered hearts.
My younger sister made this Valentine for me when she was in the second grade. (We are in our 40s now.) I remember and treasure our shared childhood memories every time I look at it.
So, get out those art supplies and gather the family around the kitchen table.
Ready… Set… CREATE!
Tags: autism, Autistic Children, chidren with autism, children, children with down syndrome, down syndrome children, fine motor development, fine motor skills, gross motor development, gross motor skills, parents, play, toys for autistic children, toys for children with autism