Autistic Children and Art Therapy

''Autism is a piece of crystal which my son has entered that isolated him from me and from the whole world as if he was in another planet. Thus, there is no eye contact with me, nor a gesture with his finger, there isn’t even a game in which we can use our imagination, or a kiss with which I can feel the taste of the world. I wished so much that I could break this crystal and take my son out of it, shake him, shake him violently perhaps he could come back from his autism exile. However, when I felt despair I have decided to break through this crystal and go into the autistic world searching for my son''

These words are risen from the heart of each mother of an autistic child and it is difficult for her to communicate with her son. So, it is our duty to go far from familiar remedies in order to find a way to solve this puzzle and enter the minds of autistics

Nowadays, art in its various forms is considered an integral part of the life of each individual in all life stages. Thus, it helps in achieving the mental balance and when a person feels anxiety, stress, anger or sadness, he/she will not find a solution better than to lay down his life problems on a piece of paper using a pen

Hence, it was the emergence of the idea that art is not only a picture which is painted, a holographic that is sculpted or a piece of music that is played but art goes far to be associated closely with spiritual and mental health. Accordingly, art has become one of the remedial methods which are recognized locally and globally.

The Importance of Art Therapy:

Maybe the most prominent class in which art therapy has achieved success is with autistic children who suffer from problems in social interaction and communication, thus, they face difficulty in speaking, starting conversations or keeping the conversations going even in asking for what they need. Also, some of them don’t express their feelings and emotions at all. On the other hand, those children don’t realize the feelings of other people. So, because there is no organic therapy to cure those children, means were directed to increase the child's ability to perform jobs as much as possible

Positives of Expression by Drawing with an Autistic Child:

Drawing helps in building a bridge of communication between the patient and the therapist in order to exchange ideas and meanings as well as revealing the patient's inner struggles. Also, drawing can give the autistic child a lot of benefits such as:

1-Art Therapy program helps the autistic child to go far from interaction with himself/herself to interaction with the treatment and the artwork, then with friends around. Hence, social or linguistic connection occurs.

2-Releasing expressive and emotional feeling for the child through developing human interaction between the child, the artwork and the therapist.

3-Raising the child's awareness of himself/herself since the child is able to produce a beautiful and distinguished job.

4- Raising the child's sense of himself/herself in order to let his/her feelings of the surroundings grow.

5-Raising their sensitive realization through raising their visual realization by making them feel the color, the handwriting, the distance, the dimension, the size and the realization by touching the surfaces.

It is worth mention that these paintings are considered a stable visual reference to know the proceeding degree of the patient during the therapy. Also, this kind of therapy doesn’t depend on an artistic skill which doesn’t have any importance or necessity in such a case. Thus, drawing needs artistic skills which help the autistic child to get used to think through playing with colors and expressing through drawing. There is no doubt that the effect of such issues will be clear in the future. It is known that as much as the abilities were raised during childhood, the results of therapy will be better after childhood, such as adolescence or after adolescence

Ways of Therapy and Psychological Counseling for Children by Art:

1-Scribbles on paper

2-Free drawing

3-Drawing feelings and emotions

4-Drawing life path

5-The child's drawing of himself/herself, others and his/her family

6-Coloring and arranging shapes

Unusual Drawing Abilities:

Some patients of autism have high creative ability that the normal person may not have. A study was done on a six-years autistic girl showed that her drawings differ from normal children's drawings. When she was three years old, that girl was fond of horses. So, during few years, she has drawn hundreds of horses accurately and correctly using far and hidden lines giving impression of life and motion. Thus, she draws what she sees exactly as if it was a camera despite that the girl hasn’t spent enough time in studying horses and watching them, she has depended only on the pictures of horses that she sees fleetingly in the stories that she takes a look at

The number of her drawings started to decrease gradually when she was eleven years old, her ability to speak has developed. Now she doesn’t draw except some drawings from time to time.

Translated By: Nermeen Al Yafi