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Special Needs Children & The Arts

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

How to Get Your Special Needs Child Involved in the Arts

By guest contributor Camille Johnson

If you are the parent of a special needs child, you want to do all you can to help them thrive. Getting your little one involved in the arts can benefit them in numerous ways. As School Specialty explains, participation in the arts can help children with disabilities express themselves, improving communication and self-expression.

Many artistic pursuits also offer physical benefits. For example, drawing and painting improve fine motor skills, while dancing enhances dexterity, coordination, and strength. Finally, kids who find success in artistic endeavors can grow valuable self-esteem. Read on to find out how to help your special-needs child get involved with the arts.

Finding a suitable activity for your child

There are many different types of artistic activities your child can try. Help them experiment with various options. For example, dance therapy is excellent for helping kids relieve stress, improve fitness, and develop gross motor skills.

Art therapy is another option. Blossom Behavioral Wellness Center reveals that this activity is especially beneficial for kids with autism. It helps develop sensory integration, improves fine motor skills, and can improve behavioral issues. Art courses can also encourage socializing, a common struggle found amongst autistic children.

Meanwhile, participation in theater and drama programs has proven helpful for kids living with cerebral palsy. According to Cerebral Palsy Guidance, these kids often struggle with language and speech development. The work that goes into learning lines and performing is a fantastic way to help improve verbal communication.

If you have artistic experience, another option is to teach your child yourself. Create a more enjoyable experience by inviting some friends or kids in the neighborhood over to participate. If you find that you have a gift teaching art, theater, or music, you could even create your own business.

Invest in the equipment, materials, and space your child needs to practice their art

Once your child has found their favorite artistic hobby, definitely encourage them to pursue it. Getting the necessary supplies, tools, and creative space they need to practice their craft will motivate them. For instance, say your little one has taken up painting. Blick offers adaptive art supplies, such as art furniture designed especially for wheelchair users and easy-grip drawing tools.

You might also give your child a designated space in the home for unleashing their artistic curiosity. If you have a spare room or unfinished basement, consider transforming it into a creative studio.

Combat stress at home with health habits

Caring for a child with a disability can, at times, be incredibly stressful. to effectively push back against the accumulation of stress, it is vital to maintain a healthy space and healthy habits that will keep your stress level low. This way, you can better care for yourself and your child. If you work from home and spend much of your time there, also important is keeping healthy work habits. Having a creative hobby, perhaps one that you can share with your child is an excellent way to fight stress and maintain a healthy balance.

Look for sources of inspiration to keep your child motivated

Giving your child role models in the arts can help motivate them. Once your little one has settled on an artistic pursuit, look for sources of inspiration. For example, if your child loves photography, they might get intrigued by the story of Oliver Hellowell. As reported by the BBC, this young photographer with Down syndrome is earning accolades with his work.

If dancing has captivated your kid's interest, HuffPost has assembled a list of dancers with disabilities who demonstrate that dance is for everyone even those in wheelchairs. Perhaps your child has sparked a passion for painting? This list of famous artists with disabilities from Passionate People features big names from Henri Matisse to Vincent Van Gogh.

Giving your special needs child the opportunity to participate in the arts can benefit them mentally, physically, and emotionally. The above guide explains how parents of special-needs kids can help their children find an artistic endeavor that suits their needs.


Birth Injury Center

Cerebral palsy is the most common motor disability for children and it affects 1 in every 345 kids. The advocacy group Birth Injury Center's mission is to assist anyone who has been affected by a birth injury. Its website is a compilation of information about the different types of injury, offering resources to assist affected families.

Learn more about cerebral palsy and the advocacy group by visiting the website.

Thanks to:

Camille Johnson for the guest article contribution.

Rebecca Wilde, Director of Outreach, Birth Injury Center for the ADDITIONAL RESOURCES section.

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