How Artwork Remedy Can Assist Kids with Autism and Untreated Trauma
Art therapy has been used for years to connect with people who think more visually or abstractly. The physical expression of art enables adults and children alike to process complex emotions or trauma non-verbally. According to the American Art Therapy Association, art therapy “uses the creative process of making art to enhance and enhance the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of people of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process of artistic self-expression helps people to solve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-confidence, and gain insights. “
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Such a versatile therapy can be used in many different ways and remains adaptable to the needs of each individual. Devika Jasra was almost 14 years old when she saw her father collapse on the floor and be hospitalized. Although her father survived the heart attack, Devika has since suffered from insomnia, nightmares and panic attacks. That is, until she started art therapy.
“The class has helped her open up and she is slowly returning to a safer mental state,” said Mother Snehali. Devika has been taking weekly drawing and painting classes for the past four months and has seen immense improvements in her mental health. Nikita D’Souza, a Mumbai-based child psychologist, explained how using color and drawing when discussing a traumatic experience helps reduce anxiety, anger, and anxiety in children. Nikita, who works primarily with children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder, said, “It not only enables students to express emotions, but also provides behavioral support and stress management.”
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While a child can process some difficult emotions while drawing, it is important to have a trained eye to watch them paint. Nikita goes on to explain how the line pattern, the pressure applied while drawing, and the colors chosen can give a glimpse into the child’s feelings. “But it’s not easy to understand a child through their works,” she explained. “The assessment must be carried out in several art sessions with the child.”
Art therapy can also look different as the child grows up. Deepti Vadlamudi, special education teacher in Visakhapatnam, describes how children over the age of seven will benefit more from exploring “wet-on-wet” painting, followed by veil painting, which is considered more meditative. “In this [wet-on-wet] Method, children use watercolors that spread easily on wet paper and mix with other colors, ”she explains. “Only primary colors (red, blue, and yellow) are used as they blend together to create lots of greens, oranges, browns, grays, and purples. This provides children with a canvas full of imagination. The colors, when they flow freely, also evoke a lot of emotions and feelings. We usually see that children prefer a certain color that calms them down or stimulates their individual temperament. “
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While an art therapist is essential to delving deeper into trauma and more closed emotions, art therapy can be done at home to relax and step into a more calming state for children on the spectrum or those suffering from mental health problems. Although finger painting may give younger children their first experience of art, it can be uncomfortable for a child with autism. Instead, try long-handled brushes or start with crayons, pencils, or markers. For kids who enjoy physical stimulation, sand art or plasticine sculpture can be a great way to use their hands without them getting dirty.
Jayashree Rao, an art therapist from Mumbai, explains how color plays in art therapy and how big it is. “Colors work in the ‘feeling’ area,” he explained. “They address people directly and differently, each with their own quality, separate from shapes.” Jayashree mainly uses the wet-on-wet watercolor method in his therapy sessions and notes that the flow of the artwork seems to relax children. “Art has and always will have healing powers, unless we are driven by the goal of the perfect work of art.”