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In our previous blogs, we’ve discussed different forms of therapies that are often used to treat those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  From music to cognitive behavioral therapy, treating ASD can come in many different forms, and each can be effective in their own way. One of the major forms of therapy that many parents see value in is art therapy.  While every child is different, and one form of therapy may not work as well as another, art therapy has been proven to help with numerous ASD related challenges, especially for children with severe Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  Here are a few of the major benefits behind treating ASD with art therapy:

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

One of the major areas of ASD that art therapy is used for is addressing sensory issues.  Many children with ASD are faced with sensory challenges often known as Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). A child that is struggling with SPD may find things such as certain textures, lighting, or sounds to be extremely irritating, to the point where they may even feel physical pain. This is generally because their senses are overstimulated, thus causing them to feel agitated or angry when they are experiencing these senses. SPD contributes to an overwhelming amount of emotional and behavioral issues.  

Art therapy is used to increase the tolerance for overstimulation of senses by converting it into an enjoyable art form.  Because children with ASD often find art to be enjoyable, they are more likely to tolerate different textures better and smells that would likely bother them in a different setting.  The key is to continue to expose the child the stimuli that he/she may prefer to avoid, to help desensitize them and make it more tolerable if they were to encounter them in everyday life.

Improve Social & Verbal Communication Skills

Social and verbal communication skills can often be limited for a child with ASD.  While some children are entirely verbal, others may be less verbal, or in some cases, totally non-verbal.  It’s not uncommon for a child with ASD to experience difficulty communicating verbally, in turn, causing social limitations as well.  Art provides children with ASD a way to express themselves and get their message across without feeling overwhelmed with frustration. They can use visuals to express their feelings, thoughts, and ideas in a healthy way, and limit their need to struggle verbally.

Ease of Anxiety and Stress

Whether its communication or sensory issues, children with ASD can experience high levels of stress and anxiety regularly.  Often, these high stress and anxiety levels are difficult to combat and can cause extreme meltdowns that may be hard for both parent and child to manage.  Art is a way to calm and soothe your child while creating a healthy distraction and outlet for them to express their feelings.