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Autism & Art: Creative, Sensory Fun

The broad spectrum of autism cannot be summed up easily. It affects different people differently, and generalizations are useless. But most people with autism are affected in two key areas: personal expression and sensory processing. Because art involves both of those areas, it offers real benefits to people with autism spectrum disorder.

Art therapy can be a powerful source of empowerment for people of all ages with autism. A qualified art therapist can devise specific exercises for clients to target their needs. But simply doing art can also be helpful. Creating things is therapeutic for all of us. adults and children with autism can find benefits beyond the usual enjoyment and skills of learning new art techniques. Crane Bird welcomes all students, and strives to understand and meet the special needs of art students with ASD.


Self-expression can be a challenge for those with autism. Reading other people’s emotional cues and responding to them often takes more focused teaching. Those on the spectrum are not lacking emotion – far from it! Many can feel so overwhelmed by their emotions that expressing them in words is difficult. Some on the autism spectrum do not speak. But every human is driven to communicate, and visual art offers a medium that is easier for some people, whether or not they have autism. So for those on the spectrum who struggle to put their own feelings into words, art offers another option for self-expression. Crane Bird’s Mullingar art classes offer everyone new ways to express themselves, and the skills learned can be especially valuable for those with ASD.

Sensory Processing

Sensory processing is a massive umbrella term referring to all of the various ways we perceive the world around us – sight, sound, feeling, smell and taste as well as our own sense of special relations and balance. Many people with autism struggle with sensory processing challenges, but those challenges vary greatly. Some are sensory seekers because they are not very sensitive to the stimuli around them. Others are so extremely sensitive that the ordinary sensory perception is overwhelming. The sounds walking through town, the feel of a clothing tag, the smells in a restaurant, or the visuals in a cinema can be so intense they are distressing. How can art classes help? Art is all about the senses, and creating art often uses even more sensory processing than enjoying the art that someone else made. Spreading paint on a canvas, squeezing clay in our hands and feeling a pencil move across paper all involve sensory processing. The physical act of creating art helps regulate sensory processing. Drawing and painting are powerful ways for children especially to learn to control their movements. And the incentive is inherent. Art classes do not involve any sort of reprimand, and the reward is seeing the results of one’s efforts.

Learning art has special benefits for adults and children with autism. Crane Bird includes and supports everyone who wants to have fun learning to create their own art.

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