The Benefits of Arts Education for Students With Special Needs

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Creative art therapy is a common psychotherapy and education strategy that improves the emotional, mental, and physical well-being of children. By engaging students in exercises requiring creativity, educators can improve their skills, communication, and the ability to communicate with others.

Art has been shown particularly beneficial for children with special needs, enabling them to express themselves in new ways. Here are the ways in which art education can help.

1. Improve Focus

When a child is doing an art project like painting a picture or making shapes with playdough, they become fully immersed. This way, they learn how to focus on the process and achieve a higher level of concentration.

One simple example is using playdough to create objects. It’s a common and non-toxic child toy that children can turn into many things. For example, ask them to create an entire family with the playdough. It’s a good way to train focus because every figure can have complex features.

Focusing on their playdough project also helps to reduce anxiety as the child becomes immersed.

2. Help Enhance Non-Verbal Communication Skills

Special students might find verbal self-expression difficult, so educators look for ideas to let them express themselves non-verbally. Art lessons are a great way to give students with special needs an opportunity to practice non-verbal communication skills.

Children with autism, for example, often show significant visual thinking skills, so making art comes naturally for them. By expressing their thoughts in pictures and other art objects, they get a much-needed relief from the daily struggle to use words.

3. Reduce Stress

Stress and anxiety are a big deal for special students, and arts education can help to relieve them. Art-based activities get children engaged and focused on creativity rather than other stressful things, so they allow the chance to express themselves and relax more.

Scholar research supports the effectiveness of arts education. In this study published in the Journal of Nursing Education, a group of students reported significantly reduced stress and increase positive emotions after a creative arts intervention.

Another major advantage was a creative research experience, which helped the participants to shift their focus from the stress and anxiety they were experiencing.

Simple yet effective art activities to reduce stress are:

  • Drawing figures and shapes with repeated patterns like mandalas
  • Creating collages
  • Putting together a photo mashup
  • Making or decorating face masks
  • Creating a family sculpture out of clay.

A great advantage of these activities is that there’s no right or wrong way to make an art object. The children won’t have to worry about the results being evaluated, which also works to reduce stress.

4. Increase Tolerance for Unpleasant Stimuli

Engagement in various creative activities can help children increase their tolerance to unpleasant stimuli while focusing their behavior on positive and creative play. For most kids, doing art is an enjoyable experience, so educators use it to encourage tolerance to various stimuli they would normally choose to avoid.

Regular engagement in such activities might help children to become more desensitized to those unwanted sensations. Ultimately, this strategy might help children to develop better coping skills if they encounter them in their daily lives.

But doing research about the effects and advantages of specific art-based activities is a must to maximize benefits and minimize potential risks. Consider using professional researchers and writers at services like SupremeDissertations or TrustMyPaper to create evidence-backed, personalized lesson plans.

Doing the research is worth it: an increased tolerance will benefit children at school and home by helping to interact with others more positively.

5. Develop Self-Esteem and Confidence

Doing art activities such as painting and working with clay stimulates all five senses, which is especially beneficial for children with autism. Discovering a creative ability to turn a blank canvas or a lump of clay into a masterpiece can be a major self-esteem and confidence boost for them.

If a child is satisfied with their work on a creative project, they’ll feel a great sense of amazement and accomplishment. It’s a great feeling, knowing that they’ve created something unique, and they did with their own creative vision.

To help your students experience the amazing feeling, introduce art lessons – making clay shapes, writing an essay, etc. – according to their needs and personalities. For example, plan a few art projects for a week and allow children to choose. This strategy will help to avoid activities that might deliver unnecessary stimulation.

Feedback is really important to help students and their parents help teachers plan their activities. Get a live chat for your school’s website to allow them to contact teachers in a matter of minutes. This contact method makes every interaction more private and personalized.

6. Improve Motor Skills

Dancing is an exciting and rewarding activity that allows children with special needs to improve their motor skills. A dance instructor can teach them simple dancing patterns, sequences, and repetitions – they are effective to learn and improve movement, rhythm, and balance.

When a child dances, they need to be aware of the space around them, follow specific movements, and align their body with others. In the process, they explore their bodies and space, and, with some directions from the teacher, they practice and improve gross and fine motor control.

The most important thing about teaching special needs students dancing is providing a non-judgmental and non-threatening environment. This way, teachers give them a chance to break out of their shells and express themselves. The dancing experience can be positive, relaxing, calming, and stimulating.

Consider gross motor and balance products for students who need them to encourage them to participate. Some modifications can also be done to get the best benefits from dance.

How to Get Started with Art Education

Arts education lessons can begin as early as age two. Exposing children with special needs to various creative activities at that age can help to find problem-solving solutions that meet their needs and preferences. For example, making sand art encourages social interaction, creative simulation, self-confidence boost, and almost immediate reward.

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