How to Introduce Creative Activities to a Child with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Arts and crafts activities help in nurturing the creative side of children. For children on the autism spectrum, these activities are particularly helpful in improving attention span, concentration and self-expression, while also reducing anxiety and stress.
As a parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is normal for you to wonder if your child is progressing developmentally on par with their peers. While a properly designed treatment plan is highly effective in ensuring that your child is able to achieve their milestones, we also recommend that parents introduce creative activities to supplement therapy and contribute to your child's overall learning.
Consult your child’s therapist and make a note of all art and craft activities that your child will be most comfortable learning.
If you’ve decided to incorporate arts and crafts activities into your child’s daily routine, we suggest taking things slow. Introduce one or two activities per day so that your child has ample time adapting to their new routine. When equipped with the right guidance, support and encouragement these children can carry their skills into adulthood. As important as it is to actively praise your child for their accomplishments, it is also crucial that you do not compare your child to others.
In this blog, we will discuss two easy steps in which parents can incorporate creative arts and crafts activities into their child’s daily routine.
Create play areas
Providing children their own play area can be extremely beneficial as it gives them freedom and allows them to be creative without outside stimulation. Dedicate a play area in your home that is free from disturbances. We recommend including sensory friendly objects such as sand, slime, play dough, jelly, clay, etc.
Make a list of arts and crafts activities that are safe and sensory friendly. Listed below are a few activities that parents can consider:
Gardening helps reduce stress and anxiety for children on the autism spectrum. Consider your child’s sensory sensitivities and determine if they would be comfortable touching mud and plants. You can also create long-term goals for gardening activities. For example, help them grow their favorite fruit or vegetable plant and give them a key role in watering and maintaining the garden. Children feel a sense of accomplishment when they eat fruits from their garden which further helps boost their confidence.
Expressing through art
Many children on the autism spectrum find it difficult to communicate verbally. Arts and crafts activities provide them with a platform to express themselves, nonverbally. We recommend parents first try simple activities, such as drawing, painting, creating friendship bands with wool, etc. Provide your child with ample support and give them the freedom to create their own unique arts and craftwork, rather than force your sensibilities on them.
Puzzles have the effect of calming children when they are over excited. Most Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) programs include puzzles to teach children problem-solving skills. Puzzles can also improve fine motor skills and visual-spatial processing issues.
Tabletop sensory boxes
Children on the autism spectrum can find various elements soothing, such as sand, water, beans, beads, etc. Tabletop sensory boxes occupy very little space and give children the opportunity to play with their favorite soothing ingredients. Children can scoop, pour and build which helps enhance their sensory experience.
For more information regarding sensory therapy, cognitive skills, behavior therapy, developmental disorders, and early intervention, please contact Stepping Stones Center. We emphasize on acquiring new and appropriate behaviors, while also working on helping the child achieve developmentally age-appropriate milestones through evidence-based practices.