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Running head: ART THERAPY 1

Art Therapy for Autistic Children

Ariel Vallecillo

Wilmington University

Art Therapy for Autistic Children

My investigation is about art therapy and the benefits of this treatment. In this case, how

could art therapy improve the lives of autistic children? After doing some research on the

positive effects art therapy has in mental health healing. I discovered that this type of medical

care, could improve patient conditions by reducing stress, depression, self-esteem issues, and

communication challenges. For this research, the following measurements will be incorporated

(communication, socialization, and imagination).

Children on the autistic spectrum battle with different challenges, but communication

seems to be the most difficult one. However, to understand how art therapy help communication,

the art therapist needs to understand exactly what does communication means to an autistic child.

Therefore, communication is more than just language, instead, it is the totality of the framework

that appear from infancy onward (Evans & Dubowski, 2007).

For example, in regards to autistic children, art therapy can improve communication,

social skills and can develop a sense of individuality. The expressive characteristics of art

therapy can aid autistic children communicate effectively by promoting interpersonal interaction

with others. This type of therapy can help the patient express deep feelings that perhaps would

not have shared during traditional psychotherapy. Art therapy opens up a new way of self

expression that transends the use of words. In May of 2013 there was a publication of the DSM-

5 diagnostic manual, in which all autistic disorders were combined and placed under one main

unbrella diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD, can be linked to intellectual

disability, difficulty with motor coordination, and attention (Autism Speaks, 2011).

Art Therapy for Autistic Children

To help children in the socialization process, it is important to incorporate or to create a

theme that they can easily participate and socially interact with other peers. Have the children sit

around a table and create a theme and observe their verbal and nonverbal reactions as pictures of

people interacting with one another are shown to them. The key outcome, is to have the

child/children learn social skills and group awareness by sharing ideas and materials provided by

the art therapist (Betts, D.J. 2005).

It is important to give the child inventive resources to enhance their creativity and

imagination. Also, because of their difficulties, it is crucial to remember that what works for one

child or session may not work for the next one. Always, maintain the creative flow open by

giving the child choices of which he or she could express in a creative way (Pamela Ullmann,


Autism is a neurobiological disorder that strikes children sometimes during the first three

years of life, affecting cognition, social interaction, and communication skills. According to

medical researchers there is not concrete cause for autism. However, researchers imply that this

disability may be of generic nature. Therefore, the characteristics of autism disorder may be

reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and appropriate interventions such as art therapy (Betts, D.J.



Art Therapy and Children with Autism: Gaining Access to Their World Through Creativity.

Retrieved from

Autism Speaks, (2011). What is autism?

Retrieved from

Bett, D. J. (2005). The Art of Art Therapy: Drawing Individuals out in creative ways. Advocate

Magazine of the Autism Society of America, 26-27

Evans, K., & Dubowski, J. (2001). Art Therapy with Children on the Autistic Spectrum: Beyond

Words. London, UK. Jessica Kingley.