Art Therapy can be used to amplify the imagination and helps build bridges in communication.
As the threat of the Coronavirus continues, Jake and I started looking for ways to help kids cope with this reality of staying at home and adjusting to virtual learning. As a parent to a 10-year-old, I wanted to share with you a few exciting art therapy exercises that'll get their imaginations moving and create hours of fun for everyone.
So what is Art Therapy? and why is it helpful for children on the autism spectrum? Art therapy is a great way for children to learn how to communicate without speaking. One of the hallmarks of autism spectrum disorders is difficulty with verbal and social communication. Some will go out of their way to avoid conversations altogether. In some cases, people with autism are nonverbal and unable to use speech to communicate at all. Individuals on the autism spectrum might also have some difficulty reading facial expressions and body language. In Jake's case, he has a hard time distinguishing the punchline of a joke or understanding sarcasm.
Art therapy removes the awkwardness of conversation and leaves a platform where individuals can silently express their feelings by the graceful lines and colors of visual expression.
I started this journey when Jake was at least 3 1/2 years old. Pre-K was really tough for him. The symptoms of autism spectrum disorder started to emerge. His speech was limited to a small vocabulary that would trigger intense meltdowns. Desperately seeking a means to communicate with Jake and pull him into learning, I turned to his special interests which was his love for superheroes. For at least 30 minutes each day, Jake and I would sit at the living room table and draw together. every session was a new adventure for him.
After several weeks, I got the idea to translate his drawings into comic book-style characters. To make them relatable, I drew the hero in his likeness. I took it a step further by incorporating his daily school assignments.
Today we're going to talk about helping our kids develop the characters in their comic book story. This lesson usually takes about 30 minutes to complete. But take longer if you're having fun! Don't worry. I won't tell anyone.
You do not need to be a professional artist, these exercises are fun and should be kept simple. These drills were meant to jumpstart our imagination so that you can find your own story.
Typically, art therapy is facilitated by a trained professional, but the principles and activities can be done at home. Always ask questions. After each creative exercise, take a moment to talk about what was done and how the child feels about it. Asking questions shows the child you respect them and what they did matters. Here's some questions to ask to get things started for this week's lesson:
1. Who is the Hero in your story?
Encourage your child to envision themselves as the hero of the story.
2. What's your hero's name?
Get creative when giving your superhero a name.
3. What kind of superpowers would you have? ask them why?
The Sky's the limit. from invisiblity to flight, Its all about helping kids to unleash their inner heroes. Ask them what they'd do with their powers and how they would use them.
4. Who are their friends? Are you part of a team?
Encourage the kids to add as many friends as they like. Keep asking questions to flesh out the story ex: Which friend knows your secret identity? Which ones have powers?
5. If so, What is the team called?
This is a fun exercise. Make it even more fun by creating a character alongside your kids. compare notes. Not only is this a creative exercise, its a family bonding moment. Don't forget to record and write down their answers. We're going to go back to them in future episodes.
Why is this important?
Let's face it. a child with well Established social skills socialize much better as adults, as they establish connection, communication and empathy. art therapy gives them a creative outlet to express and overcome negative behaviors.
It's Theraputic: art gives a voice to children to who can't full describe what they are feeling. A language without words, children are whi have issues communicating or those who are unable to speak can draw and paint their frustrations away.
You're creating a memorable moment: Never forget the bond between parent and child. If Our jobs pull us away from the people that matter to us most. so make some time for the little, special poeple who look up to us. 25 to 30 minutes is all you need to create moments that'll make their day.
You're playing an active part in your kid's deveopment: Activities like this can offer improvement in a child's coordination, concentration and cognitive development. Fine Motor Skills relates to the small, intricatre muscles in a child's hands. These muscles are necessary for holding pens, pencils, and safety scissors. let's not forget that it's a great activity that brings hours of fun for both you and your kids.
Done regularly, Art can improve overall well-being and contribute to lowering anxiety and stress, improving self-awareness and self-esteem, strengthening relationships, regulating behaviors and advancing social skills.
Finding the right story doesn't stop there. Here's a few ideas to make play time a lot more interesting.
NARRATING YOUR SCENES
Reading and storytelling with your child promotes healthy brain development. and imagination, It teaches your child about language and emotions, strengthens your bonds.
Here's a few ideas to start building your story. Start by asking your kids to think of a fun moment in their lives. was it a trip to grandma and grandpa's? Or maybe it was an amusement park?
When it comes to describing s scene make it exciting because young kids love action. Therefore, the narration should not be mere telling; it should be accompanied by activity, dialogue and dramatization. Sense- impressions may be created by vivid descriptions and presenting events as if happening before them.
Don't forget to ask questions to help our little authors flesh out their story:
· Whare does your superhero story take place.
· What kind of day is it? is it rainy?, sunny?
· What time of the year is it?
MAKE A STORYBOARD
You can make a storyboard by having a child draw a series of pictures of the main events in the story on sticky notes and then asking him or her to arrange the pictures in order. Talk about the order and whether it makes sense – since you are using sticky notes, the child can move them around.
A photo story is another way of using pictures to organize or create a story. Have a child cut pictures out of magazines or take photos with a digital camera. He or she can then arrange the picture in order and write captions, much the same as with a storyboard.