Pediatric Therapy Corner: Autism and Creative Arts Therapy

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By: Pamela Ullmann, ATR-BC, LCAT

This blog post has been reprinted with express permission of the author as it appeared on her (currently inactive but still fantastic)  Full Spectrum Blog

An Emerging Need
Data released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2007 revealed a startlingly high prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in New Jersey children: 10.6 per 1,000, or one child in every 94.

School systems, health care facilities, and community service agencies struggle to meet a rising need and demand for innovative services that can give children on the autism spectrum the best chance to develop intellectually and socially, to discover their talents and cope with their challenges. Parents and siblings of children on the autism spectrum also need supportive services to cope with the stress of their children’s special needs.

Creative Arts Therapies for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Creative arts therapies offer many benefits for children on the autism spectrum:

  • Engaging hard-to-reach youth: Simply put, creative arts therapies are fun. Even children who resist other interventions may participate eagerly in Art, Music, and Dance Therapy
  • Sensory Stimulation and Integration: Because children on the autism spectrum have heightened sensory needs, they often respond well to the multisensory stimulation and concrete, hands-on approach inherent in art, music, and dance therapy. Music and dance help to integrate the body and increase sensory tolerance.
  • Communication and Self-Expression: Creative arts provide a precious medium of self-expression for children with limited or no verbal communication.
  • Building the Imagination: Creative art therapies have unparalleled capacity to address imagination deficit, a classic characteristic of autism. Art therapy can help children with autism to build abstract thinking skills, creativity, and flexibility.
  • Strengthening Family Relationships: Art therapy can also help families discover new ways of relating to children with autism spectrum disorders, and foster an appreciation of these children’s unique gifts. Workshops and healing groups targeted to parents and siblings of autistic children will help family members develop supportive peer relationships and coping skills.

Featured Author: Pamela Ullmann, ATR-BC,LCAT

Many thanks to Pamela Ullmann for providing us with this article for our newsletter and website.

Pamela has worked in a variety of clinical, educational and business settings. Her passion for the arts led her to become an art therapist in 1996.

Pamela works therapeutically with children and families dealing with medical, emotional , behavioral and special needs issues (now specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorders). Currently, she is working as an art therapy supervisor for Heartsong, Inc, developing new programming for a new nonprofit organization called Healing Arts Family Connection, Inc and works in her own private practice, Colors of Play, LLC.

Please support our contributing authors. Visit Pamela’s Blog, Full Spectrum at http://colorsofplay.blogspot.com/ and her website at: http://www.colorsofplay.com/

In addition to her clinical abilities, Pamela has developed administrative and managerial skills which has enabled her to contribute to all aspects of business planning and development.

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