HOW MUSIC & THE ARTS CAN HELP AUTISTIC CHILDREN
IMPROVING SOCIAL SKILLS
Social interactions can be challenging for many with autism, especially those experiencing difficulties with interpreting verbal tone and facial expression.
Engaging in arts-based activities can help with forming connections to others. Activities such as singing, dancing and drumming often require listening, collaboration and taking turns. This can help nurture cooperation and teamwork and promotes self-confidence and perseverance.
ALTERNATIVE FORM OF COMMUNICATION
Many children with autism struggle with verbal communication. Engaging in musical or theatrical experiences provides another option to express themselves, while also offering a fun and engaging outlet.
ADDRESSING SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER
A prevalent issue among children with autism remains sensory processing disorder, in which certain sensations — such as the feel of some textures, loud noises and bright lighting — can feel unbearable. These sensations can lead to overstimulation that results in a meltdown or shutting down altogether.
Participating in various art forms can help increase individuals’ tolerance for these stimuli. Drumming, for instance, can ease reactions to loud sounds and touching new surfaces.
AN OUTLET WITH STRUCTURE
Structure and routine are usually a high priority for children with autism, and many art forms provide just that. Dance, for instance, requires learning and rehearsing specific positions and movements, as well as drilling choreography repeatedly. Pursuing dance can give people with autism the chance to enjoy a fun activity and achieve self-expression, while still adhering to a comfortable structure.
Living with conditions such as autism can often create barriers to forming new and lasting friendships. Participating in the arts can provide opportunities to meet and engage with new people.
PROVIDING A PRODUCTIVE OUTLET
Some children with autism might focus excessively on various self-stimulating behaviors, such as rocking or hand flapping, which can distract from interacting with others or engaging in activities at hand. These can sometimes serve as soothing behaviors, however, that help with getting through the day. Arts activities such as playing an instrument or exploring creative movement can provide other forms of self-stimulating behavior that are more socially acceptable, while still providing a helpful outlet.
EXPERIENCING A NEW PERSPECTIVE