Posted by: myautisticmuslimchild | October 20, 2012

Art and Autism

Children with autism are generally visual learners/thinkers.

Many children with autism struggle with speech issues, (some completely non verbal, some talk but it is not functional),  they unable to express their needs , wants and feelings. Kids with autism also have a hard time with social interaction and sensory processing.

Art can be an answer to help children with many of their problems.  Since they being so visual, responding to visual clues can help them to learn many things. To be able to make their inner thoughts visualize in some form can open new doors for communicating with others.

If you analyze what is art about it may seem a bit difficult, and some might be discouraged to pursue art therapy or art as a recreational activity for ASD kids.  Art requires organizational skills, gathering the necessary materials, to place them in a strategic places, and to use them in order so the “masterpiece” can be created. This activity also requires imagination, thinking, focus, sensory processing, as well as fine and gross motor-skills, hand and eye coordination.  Art in group or even with just a parent requires some sort of social interaction, which are sometimes undesirable to children with ASD. (not always)  These are some of the few necessary requirement that I can think of now, and I am sure some of you can add more to the list. If one can see this list, they might get discouraged to even try art therapy, or to do it at home with the child. Honestly all these skills I mentioned above doesn’t necessary have to have, they actually develop these skills over time with art therapy/recreational activity. With patience and persistent teaching children will love art and seek to do more, and in the process they develop many useful skills to help them along the way.

My son, Amin loves art, any form of art. He developed a sense of pride every time he accomplishes a piece. He learned to work with other kids, take turns, share materials, even to help out. Slowly he is starting to understand the meaning of working together, generalizing about the art projects, and to my surprise he’s started to play imaginary games. This last skill was a huge surprise for me, and it gives me a great relief that he is starting think for himself more ways than he had before. It also gives him another way to express himself as well as to entertain himself.

Attending his social club, he is exposed to art projects very frequently, and we do many different things at home too.

At the club it is much easier for him to share materials, to work side by side with others, take turns, and share the proud moment of viewing their finished project. He learned to experiment much easier. There are times he would not touch certain things, or handle different materials, but seeing others touch and feel  and work with variety of textures, objects he was much easier to be pursued of using them, than it would have been otherwise.

This activity opens a new world for kids with autism. This world can be as colorful as they want it to be, and this world can show their most inner thoughts that they might never be able to express without art.

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Responses

  1. JazakAllah Sister for sharing with us, yes I can relate to how you feel, my son has been doing imaginary play for a few years now, and I have always encouraged him in this, he has to make something straight away when he gets an idea and inspiration, this has been very difficult at times, as I have had to dig out art materials for him, it takes me forever to think what he could use to make something, but he has such on the spot quick thinking that he will go searching for boxes, bottles, containers, and a whole load of things and create a masterpiece out of it. I have bought him all the art supplies, stationary and paper, glue, selotape, and whatever I can find rummaging in the bargain shops. He has used all his Legos to create many things, he has made an iPhone out of Legos and put on it drawings and even said “mum it’s an iPhone 4s”, it’s a very nice feeling when you see their progress. My lounge is his space, as space is what he needs to be creative, and we provide him with space to help him.
    He also uses the laptop and iPad to make lots of drawings, pictures and words, and one thing that has been brilliant for helping me to make visuals and schedules for him, is taking pictures of every activity he does. He won’t use his pecs (picture exchange system) symbols at home now, so I print off photos of his favourite foods, toys, games and use those, he also draws for me, some pictures to use as visuals. the amount of detail and perfection that goes into these pictures and drawings, is amazing. I wanted to share about our journey to Lancashire to visit my family, well on the way as we drove over the Severn Bridge and motorway, my son was clicking pictures of it all. When we arrived at my mums house, he went in search of materials to use for the inspiration he had just had, and had to make it there and then, he gathered plastic pop bottles, Sellotape, paper, scissors and got me to help him, I couldn’t understand what an earth he was trying to make, but just followed him, when he had finished his masterpiece, he proudly held it up and said “look mum I made The Bridge on the motorway”, I was so surprised, and tired, it had exhausted me, I sometimes never know what he is making until he tells me, ; ) . But Thank You sister for your wonderful blogs, I just love them, have been reading for a while now, I had been googling in search of something for Muslim children with autism, and had come across your link, and have come along way since then, on this journey of discovery. I pray for your son Amin and and all the children out there.

    • THank you Zarina for your comment. Wonderful to hear about your child, and it is certainly inspirational. May God bless you for your patience and bless your entire family and give you all health and success..ameen.

  2. My daughter is great in playing the viola. She learned in the 4th grade and has been playing now for 4 years, Mashallah. She told me in 4th grade that she likes music class because “I am with normal kids.” It can be challenging for children to always having to be in a Special Day Class and she welcomed the opportunity music provided to be in a mainstream setting. She is also very good at art. She is mainsteam, in general education, for both music and art. I encourage others to think about what their kids “can do”. My daughter’s academics are always a challenge, but music and art has kept her feeling sucessful, with her self-esteem high. Inshallah if she feels good about herself, depression and giving up on academics is far in the background and doesn’t become an issue.

    As a young child, she was able to memorize musical songs or melodic surahs much much quicker and accurately than my typical child. For me, that was a clue that using melody could be a learning tool as well. She learned her multiplication tables using a song about multiplication.

    • ws, Thank you for sharing your experience with us. It is important to give opportunity to our children to develop and refine their interest and talent. I think all parents need to be on a look out what are their children’s strength. Many times we put so much emphasis on what are their weakness, that we miss the real opportunity to help them to increase their knowledge of what they are good at. Someone once told me, ” why do we have to focus on disability, when we can help with their different ability?”. A good way to look at life and help these kids to reach their full potential.
      Again, thank you for sharing your experience, and I am sure many readers will be in a look out for the talent their kids have from now on. :)


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