13th May 2021 • My Family Our Needs
In what ways does art, crafting, and creativity help young people with autism? MFON columnist, Aoife Casson invites us into her space by sharing a video of her crafting at home and explains how crafting has become such an important outlet for her mental health.
Everyone’s interpretation of art and crafting is different. It could be a free-flowing practice or young people may choose to engage with an art therapist. According to The British Association of Art Therapy, ‘art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art media as its primary mode of expression and communication.’
Art therapy offers children a safe form of emotional expression and communication that is unrestricted by language and communication difficulties. For children struggling with learning difficulties, art therapy offers a bridge between the child’s inner world and the outside world, enabling them to express their inner turmoil in the company of a safe and regulating adult. The therapist can then act as an “auxiliary cortex” (Diamond et al., 1963), empathetically helping the child to recognise, label and regulate emotions whilst, if appropriate, assisting them to understand and adjust to social and cultural expectations.
The British Association of Art Therapists offers a search service, if your child, or the young person you care for, wishes to seek art therapy with another adult. This route won’t be the right one for every young person, so it’s therefore important to determine the type of art and creativity that your child enjoys and explore the best approach on how to make it happen. For Aoife, crafting alone, (although sometimes with the friendly company of her dogs, Stanley, and Alfie), provides her with the calm and solace she needs to really express her creativity. Art comes in so many forms and parents/carers should explore all routes available to them.
For further information about art therapy and registered therapists, visit: http://www.baat.org
Reference: Diamond, S., Balvin, R. and Diamond, F. (1963) Inhibition and choice. New York: Harper & Row.