Art is a language people use to express their thoughts and feelings without using words. People on the autism spectrum are no different! Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication and social interaction, as well as behavior and interests of children and lasts throughout their lifetime. It’s estimated by the Dubai Autism Centre (DAS) that autism affects 1 in 146 births in the city; and 1 in 44 children around the world according to a recent study.
Art therapy is a distinct form of therapy that uses creative processes to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. For people with autism, art therapy can be an incredibly beneficial tool for improving communication, reducing anxiety, and promoting self-expression.
One of the key benefits of art therapy for autism is that it provides a non-verbal way to communicate. For people with autism, communication can be a challenge, and traditional therapy methods that rely on conversation may not be effective. Art therapy provides an alternative way to express thoughts and feelings, which can be especially helpful for those who struggle with verbal communication. Art therapy can also help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. Many people with autism experience high levels of anxiety, which can make it difficult to engage in social interactions or focus on tasks. Creating art in a calm and supportive environment can help reduce stress and promote a sense of calm, which can carry over into other areas of life.
Art therapy for autism can also promote self-expression and creativity- which is an essential quality. For people with autism, expressing emotions or thoughts can be challenging, but art therapy can provide a safe space to explore new ideas and express themselves in a way that feels comfortable. It can also help promote social interaction in a fun environment. Creating art with others can be a great way to build connections and social skills, which can be challenging for people with autism. By engaging in art activities with others, individuals with autism can build confidence and develop social skills in a low-pressure and enjoyable setting.
Earlier in April 2023, the initiative ‘Autism Murals’ became a part of the annual autism awareness campaign, which was launched under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, with the slogan “Towards an Autism-friendly Community”. This initiative aims to transform the walls of buildings into artistic paintings that carry awareness messages about autism and reveal the talents and creativity of people with autism.
People with autism have many distinctive and exceptional abilities and talents that make them able to express their differences and desires, which gives the ‘Autism Murals’ initiative a special position, because it provides us with the opportunity to listen to them and communicate with them in a way we love.
In conclusion, art therapy can be an incredibly beneficial tool for those living with autism. By providing a non-verbal way to communicate, reducing anxiety, promoting self-expression and creativity, and building social skills, art therapy can improve the quality of life for people with autism. If you or someone you know is living with autism, consider exploring the benefits of art therapy and see how it can help promote growth and well-being.