The month of April has the wonderful distinction of being Autism Awareness Month, and today, April 2nd, is World Autism Day. Autism is a neurological disorder that disrupts a person’s learning and socialization. While it affects over 1.5 million people in the U.S., it’s considered a ‘spectrum’ disorder because the characteristics vary from person to person.
Children with autism tend to have stronger visual-spatial skills and weaker verbal abilities so many of the teaching strategies that work well for visual learners, also work well with autistic students. Over the years we’ve had many students with autism in our Young Rembrandts’ classrooms and we’ve seen them thrive because our drawing classes are a highly visual activity with limited verbal instruction.
In this excerpt from my book, Being Visual, I explain why drawing is the perfect outlet for children on the autism spectrum.
“Art, specifically drawing, is a form of controlled communication. If a child with autism has difficulty with receptive language or sharing himself or herself verbally, drawing provides them a unique outlet. When children draw they can tell their story, communicating thoughts and moods without language. They may also find comfort in the ability to control the pace and structure of communication, especially if they feel they have less control in other areas. Sharing through drawing has value in and of itself, but it’s also preparation for communicating thoughts through language. This is true of all learners who are developing their communication and language capabilities.“
Get the book to learn more about the benefits of art for children with special needs and the link between autism and visual thinking.
Here are more of my blog posts about children and autism: