"Art therapy is the deliberate use of art-making to address psychological and emotional needs. Art therapy uses art media and the creative process to help in areas such as, but not limited to: fostering self-expression, enhancing coping skills, managing stress, and strengthening a sense of self."
--The Art Therapy Alliance
"We use the creative art process to facilitate personal well-being."
--Northern Ireland Group for Art as Therapy (NIGAT)
"Art Therapy is about using art as a tool for communication and through the therapeutic relationship, emotional, psychosocial and developmental needs are addressed with the intention of effecting lasting change."
--Hong Kong Association of Art Therapists (HKAAT)
Art Therapy and Autism Spectrum Disorders
There are five related neurodevelopmental disorders: Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Rett's Disorder, Autistic Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), and Asperger's Syndrome; these often are referred to as "autism spectrum disorders." The disorders within this “spectrum” are often ordered from low functioning [that is, more severe disability, especially if co-morbid (also occurring) with mental retardation; ex: Childhood Disintegrative Disorder] to high functioning (an individual whose intellectual reasoning is unaffected; ex: Asperger's).
Austism specturm disorders include the presence of deficits in the areas of communication, socialization, and imagination. There is also restricted, obsessive-compulsive, perseverative, and/or repetitive behaviors and visual, auditory, and/or tactile hyper- or hyposensitivity. There may be self-injury or aggressive behavior due to the challenges people with autism spectrum disorders encounter in their daily lives. According to Arttherapyandautism.com, art therapy is helpful with the following aspects: imagination/abstract thinking, sensory regulation and integration, self-expression, cognitive and physical development, and visual-spatial skills.
View a short film about art and music therapy with individuals with autism here:
Autism and Savants. Stephen Wiltshire has been called the "Human Camera." In this short excerpt from the film" Beautiful Minds: A Voyage into the Brain," Wiltshire takes a helicopter journey over Rome and then draws a panoramic view of what he saw, entirely from memory. Read a short article on neurodiversity and Stephen Wiltshire on Psychology Today, The Healing Arts.
Autism Spectrum Disorders Resources
Association for Science in Autism Treatment. This website follows and examines best practices and research in the treatment of autism.
Autism Speaks. Very popular site for information on autism and is considered to currently be the largest autism organization in the world. Good basic resource about autism and the latest research and best practices.
More resources coming soon!
Members Only: Downloadable articles and podcasts about art therapy, autism, and related topics-- coming soon!
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