Art for Autism

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Over the last few months I have had the privilege of working with Zach.  Zach has severe autism and is non-verbal but had always enjoyed art activities when he was at school so his mum got in touch and asked if I would be able to provide weekly art sessions.  A fantastic aspect of art is that it really is for everyone.  Experimenting with colour and texture can bring joy on an enormous range of levels.  One of the brilliant things about the way Zach enjoys art is that he is solely interested in the process; what captures his attention are the sensations involved in stamping, squishing, sticking, spreading, sorting.  The finished product is of little importance to him which means that I have also had to cast aside any concerns about what we will be left with at the end.  This has been quite a steep learning curve for me and one that I have found really quite liberating.  I have come to realise that my role is to facilitate his experimentation and be willing to go with the flow.  If he is particularly interested in squishing a sponge in paint then the whole session may consist of this is various guises.  While I know how important the process is to all of the children I work with, it can be hard sometimes to not get distracted by a pressure to ensure they produce a high quality finished product.  My weekly sessions with Zach are serving as a handy reminder that art is ultimately about pleasure, and enjoyment of the various processes involved in making art can be extremely powerful in the development of all artists.

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