Credit: Jane Sandwood, freelance writer
Date: December 13, 2018

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon from Pexels

Pablo Picasso said “every child is an artist.” If that’s true then providing your child with an artistic outlet can unleash the creative being within, providing benefits that extend past the creative act. When we concentrate on something such as making a work of art, it produces a state of being called flow. The flow state produces the neurochemicals norepinephrine, endorphins, and dopamine, which all produce pleasure and can in turn heighten an individual´s creative output. As well as the universal benefits of artistic endeavors, it has been noted that children on the autistic spectrum in particular can benefit from making art. When parents support special attention to interests of children on the spectrum, it can be beneficial for communication and socialization as well as it can also be an avenue to explore other related interests. Encouraging your child to engage in artistic activities can truly open up new worlds.

When Paint Meets Paper
Art can serve multiple purposes for children on the spectrum. It is a nonverbal form of communication, so it may serve as a means to communicate for children who don’t speak or who have trouble with spoken communication. It can help with the ability to think symbolically or to recognize facial expressions or communicate emotions through the depiction of facial expressions. Artistic involvement can take the form of art therapy or simply making art at home. One activity you can do with your child is frozen paint. Put watered down paint into an ice cube tray and put toothpicks standing in each cube. Use aluminum foil to hold the toothpicks in place. When it freezes, you have a multisensory tool to make art with.

Movement and Musical Magic
Music can help with anxiety and focus. Simply the act of playing music during an activity has been known to enhance the ability to show emotions and engage socially during therapy sessions. Music engages both sides of the brain and uses the same neural pathways as language. To take advantage of the attention-grabbing properties of music, try singing instructions to children. Use hand gestures with song for improved motor coordination. Passing or sharing instruments can also provide a vehicle for social interaction. Music therapy can be done at home using materials created by music therapy professionals or with a licensed professional.

No matter if your child is splashing paint onto a canvas, playing a chord on a guitar, or feeling the rhythm through their bodies, artistic avenues can have a therapeutic effect. Artistic endeavors can help to manage sensory exploration as well as open new highways of communication. Whatever the form it takes, art has benefits for everyone.