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.
We aim to develop a comprehensive creative arts therapy curriculum for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, including Art Therapy, Music Therapy and Dance Therapy. In addition, we will offer creative workshops and healing groups for overstressed family members.
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.
• Socialization: Sharing art and performing together can help children on the autism spectrum build social skills and bond with peers.
• 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.