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5 Behaviors That Can Improve With Art

Updated: 5 days ago

Written by: Sindy Victor, MS, BCBA, LBA

This blog post was written to discuss the benefits of using art based interventions in applied behavior analysis (ABA), an evidence based treatment for autism spectrum disorders. The following is a list of 5 Behaviors That Can Improve With Art:

1. Art can be used to improve your child's expressive language abilities. Have you ever been at a loss for words? This idiom phrase although intended to be witty reflects a reality that is all too common for individuals diagnosed with autism. In my first hand experience working with these unique kiddos, preferences are not always communicated in words; some times they use pictures. By drawing, painting, or cutting & gluing your child or loved one can express their emotions and indicate their desires. The possibilities are endless for what can be expressed using visual cues, which may be the only form of communication for young learners with a limited verbal repertoire. Behavior technicians and caregivers can use art in daily learning activities to help their child improve communication skills!

2. Engaging in art based learning with your child can strengthen their joint attention abilities. Joint attention involves two individuals sharing a common visual perspective. This typically requires some form of non-verbal communication: eye gaze, pointing to an item, or using visual cues. Individuals diagnosed with autism often have challenges with eye contact, communicating preferences, and attending to shared activities for long durations. By spending 20 minutes in the evening coloring with your child, caregivers can increase the amount of time their child engages in family bonding activities while the ABA Therapist monitors the duration of eye contact and accuracy in responding.

3. Art can also help to increase self awareness. Self awareness involves being aware of thoughts, behaviors, and feelings that align with self. When a child with autism is given the opportunity to paint vivid details about their day they are engaged in a process of systematic thinking that reveals details about themselves. This information can be used later to identify antecedent strategies to improving social skills, barriers to progressing in adaptive living skills, and help develop effective reward systems. Self awareness occurs at the foundation of affirming identity and is key for improving self management skills.

4. At Swarthy Lion Behavioral Health & Wellness we use art to create opportunities for diverse people to get social! This is facilitated through our various instructional programs that incorporate the use of art and interactive building activities between clients diagnosed with autism and our In Home ABA Therapists. Independent artists with autism can create and share their unique artwork to our email: to be featured on our instagram page: @swarthylionbehavior. Sharing your child or loved one's art on social media forms a bridge for access to networks of other talented individuals across neurodevelopment types that wish to share and socialize with like talent!

5. Art is a great delay activity. While you're waiting at the doctor's office, going for a long ride in the car, or while you're preparing dinner your child can be engaged in a drawing or coloring activity that keeps them focused and out of trouble! Unexpected time delays can be quite difficult to tolerate for individuals with autism. As a result, they may engage in maladaptive or unwanted behaviors while their caregivers are simply trying to get the noodles ready for pasta night! Whatever the situation, delay activities like the iPad or TV can become difficult to transition away from the child, but art based work typically requires more effort and attention which make them easier to move on from. Try leaving a coloring book and some crayons in your child's backpack and have them take it out in the car on the drive to your family vacation. Instead of listening to a repetitive "are we there yet," set the mood for a singing loop of "Old McDonald Had a Farm" by offering an animal themed coloring book perhaps!

Whatever your choice of coloring book theme it is a great idea to pair your art with the appropriate use of language and communication. This will encourage an increase in appropriate social interactions between you and your child or loved one with autism.

Click here to sign up for our In Home ABA Therapy Services in Metro Atlanta or call Sindy at: 470-829-1333 to schedule an initial consultation.


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