Visual Art as Therapy: Forms of Expression For Kids on the Spectrum

In the life of any child, the ability to express themselves or have a mode that allows them to, can alleviate stress and make them feel understood. For a child on the spectrum, where communication may pose an issue, art is a way to enrich a child’s life by allowing them to express their inner emotions or perspective on the world around them. This has been the case for many children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder looking for an outlet to create and express the words they can’t say verbally, through the strokes of a pen and/or paintbrush.

girl holding painting brush on white board
Photo by Khunkorn Laowisit on

The act of creation empowers a child and stimulates their creativity and imagination. Art has been an outlet for centuries and has depicted the unspoken truths that surround us. It helps people cope in society, function throughout the day and gives them a routine that will positively affect their concentration. Not every child or child on the spectrum will take to art but for those with a passion to draw or paint it can be a wonderful form of stress reduction and therapy. And there are ways to get your child involved that are autism friendly and consistent. Many Autism centers offer art as an after school activity and promote the benefits of visual art in the treatment of sensory processing issues as well as  improvement in the ability to recognize different emotions.

According to The American Autism Association, “Art therapy has a number of benefits for individuals with autism…”. These benefits include but are not limited to sensory stimulation, the development of social skills, an increase self-esteem, behavior management, the development of motor skills and a heightened sense of self. So why not explore what visual art has to offer a child? This alternative to verbal communication is forging a new way of expression, one where the inability to communicate through accepted channels is challenged and given a new meaning. For any person regardless of whether they are on the spectrum or not, the processing of visual information is oftentimes more effective than words.

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