Art Therapy & Autism Spectrum Disorder   Integrating Creative Interventions

Art Therapy & Autism Spectrum Disorder
Integrating Creative Interventions
Developed by the Autism Society of America & the American Art Therapy Association
The Autism Society of America joined with the
American Art Therapy Association to develop this
practice toolkit. It provides art therapy information
and resources for healthcare professionals as well
as those individuals on the Autism Spectrum, their
families, and caregivers; offers practical guidance
to assist in building or expanding an effective art
therapy program; and, addresses some of the
many opportunities for successful application and
engagement of art therapy in ASD.
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Engaging Expression Through Creativity
“Imagine being chronically over-stimulated, with
inadequate communication tools, difficulty focusing,
and anxiety--this is the world of a person with
autism. Art therapy provides real relief; a visual tool
for communication, a window to the imagination, and
a motivation to make connections. Art therapists are
fluent in providing high-quality, visual, sensory-rich
opportunities for learning for individuals with Autism
Spectrum Disorders.” -Nicole Martin, ATR
About Art Therapy
Art therapists are Master’s level and above health
professionals who use art as a means of communication and
support. The art making process is used to guide people in:
attaining enhanced communication and socialization; easing
stress, pain, and loss; improving cognitive and motor skills;
gaining mental health resilience and coping skills; and,
increasing a sense of empowerment through illness,
transitions, and end-of-life concerns.
In order to properly treat and protect those seeking
assistance, the American Art Therapy Association strongly
promotes art therapy programs that employ Art Therapists
credentialed through the independent Art Therapy
Credentials Board. The ATCB defines appropriate and
established standards for art therapy education, training,
ethics, and competence in practice. Three credentialing
levels include: Registered Art Therapist (ATR), Board
Certified Art Therapist (ATR-BC), and Art Therapy Certified
Supervisor. Click here to learn more
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| Model Art Therapy Programs
Education – Special Needs
Hospital - Psychiatric
Hospital – Special Needs
Private Practice
Implementation Tools
Education, Licensure & Scope Of Services
Program Options & Salary
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Fund A Program
Post An Art Therapy Job
Institute For Continuing Education
Outcomes & More
Recommended Reading & Viewing
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Useful Links
© 2013
Successful art therapy programs offer uniquely tailored
treatment modalities that do not threaten a client’s
autonomy, restrict perception, or pigeonhole emotion.
Rather, the appropriate program promotes a
comfortable, supportive, and creative environment in
which functional, sensory, and social experiences may
be safely explored.
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| Community - Autism Spectrum Therapies, Covington, LA Click to learn more
The program employs the latest Applied Behavior Analysis findings to craft individually tailored therapy
programs to address the needs of families and individuals with autism and other developmental needs of
all ages. Overarching goal is to help individuals with developmental needs achieve their full potential.
Education – Special Needs – St. Elizabeth School, Baltimore, MD Click to learn more
The school serves students in grades 1 -12, and is a member of the Maryland Association of Non-Public
Special Education Facilities. Art therapy is the clinical treatment of choice for students with Autism
Spectrum Disorder. In groups, art therapy builds on strengths and students' own special interests.
Hospital - Psychiatric Adolescent - Shadow Mountain at Riverside, Tulsa, OK Click to learn more
The inpatient autism/neurology unit for adolescents offers individual and family therapy weekly, and group
therapy three times weekly. The art therapist works closely with a comprehensive treatment team. The
SCERTS approach is employed, which emphasizes Social Communication, Emotional Regulation, and
Transactional Support.
Hospital – Special Needs - Hazelwood Center ICF/MR, Louisville, KY Click to learn more
The residential program is for patients with severe to profound disabilities and co-occurring disorders.
Treatment philosophy is to provide persons DD and ID the opportunity to engage in the art process, within
the safe confines of a professional, therapeutic relationship. Participants work to increase awareness of
self and others; cope with symptoms, stress, and traumatic experiences; enhance cognitive abilities; and,
enjoy the life-affirming pleasures of making art.
Private Practice - Intentional, Creative, Engaged LLC, New York, NY Click to learn more
The program’s developmental perspective brings a child’s passion for art-making into a shared
experience, using the art media to encourage reciprocal interactions and to support the development of
abstract thinking. Each child's sensory, visual, and motor-planning systems are evaluated and materials
are adapted to promote optimal exploration and expression.
Studio - Make Studio, Baltimore, MD Click to learn more
The studio’s mission is to provide multimodal visual arts programming, including sales and exhibition
opportunities, to adults with disabilities in a supportive and inclusive environment. Participating artists
explore new techniques and media with experienced staff, earn income and recognition of their creative
talents, and increase job and life skills.
American Art Therapy Association is an organization of more than 5,000 professionals dedicated to
the field of art therapy. Its mission is to serve its members and the general public by providing standards
of professional competence, and developing and promoting knowledge about the field of art therapy.
© 2013
There are a number of options for implementing
an effective, thriving art therapy program.
Current best practices provide insight into the
potential impact of an art therapy program, its
outcomes, and appropriate implementation
strategies. Activities can be designed to suit the
individual’s specific strengths and weaknesses,
age, and functioning level.
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| Art therapy provides infinite opportunities to improve sensory integration in natural and
engaging ways. A variety of creative activities are beneficial in improving motor skills, planning,
sequencing, organization, attention span, cognitive processing, problem solving, flexibility,
socialization, impulse control, and more.
Education, Licensure & Scope Of Services
Find An Art Therapist
Post An Art Therapy Job
Fund A Program
Sectors Offering Support Include: Public,
Private, Nonprofit, Health, Educational, And
"The creative process of art making
allows for a child to move into the
psychosocial stage of industry vs.
inferiority. During this period, a child with
ASD can use the creative process to
enhance competency and mastery,
allowing for positive development of their
self-esteem and relationship skills."
—Dr. Laura JJ Dessauer, ATR-BC
Program Options & Salary
Institute for Continuing Education-
Art Therapy (sample of available online courses)
Social Support Group Preliminary Results (0308)
Highlights preliminary research results of an Art
Therapy Autism Social Support Group named
‘Club ASD’ (About Social Development), that
provides art-based social skills lessons and
community field trips to help individuals with
Autism and Asperger's learn and practice social
Art Therapy & DIR/Floortime Model (0310)
The DIR/Floortime approach teaches art
therapists to follow a child's natural emotional
interests while challenging them toward greater
mastery of their social, emotional, and intellectual
capacities. Invite the child with autism to
experience creativity by first understanding them
and then joining them in their world.
© 2013
Art therapy is a beneficial and enjoyable treatment
because of its inherent ability to surpass language
barriers and achieve therapeutic gains in a safe
zone. Art therapy helps participants gain selfesteem, learn social cues and norms, identify nonliteral and non-verbal language, and advance
comfortable interpersonal relationships.
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Art As An Early Intervention Tool For
Children With Autism BOOK
Art Therapy & Autism Research
Art Therapy & Children With Autism
Art Therapy Applied To An Adolescent With
Asperger's Syndrome
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| High-Functioning Autism And Art Therapy
Idiomatic Expression As A Stimulus
Improving Question-Asking In Adolescents
Individual Expresses Himself Through Art
Art Therapy As An Intervention For Autism
Integrating Art Therapy And The
DIR/Floortime Model
Art Therapy For Autism
Lost In Space BOOK
Art Therapy For Autistic Children VIDEO
Painting, Music Help Disabled Convey
Art Therapy With A Child Experiencing
Sensory Integration Difficulty
Play-Based Interventions for Children &
Adolescents BOOK
Art Therapy With Children On The Autistic
Spectrum: Beyond Words BOOK
Project Spectrum K-12 Manual Of Ideas
Assessing Portrait Drawings
Autism & Asperger's Syndrome
Autism And Art Therapy
Colors Of Play BLOG
Cutting-Edge Therapies For Autism BOOK
Developing A Projective Drawing Test
Drawn To The Table
Evaluation Of Group Therapy For Children
With ASD
Exhibit Grapples With Mental Illness Stigma
Help In Preparing For School
Project Spectrum VIDEO
The Art Of Healing
The Art Of Therapy
Bibliography & Outcome Studies
Research confirms art therapy is a proven
treatment modality that helps individuals
on the Autism Spectrum to comfortably
explore and attain increased selfawareness, enhanced communication and
self-expression, improved focus and motor
skills, and balanced sensory integration.
© 2013
A host of valuable resources are available to assist
those on the Autism Spectrum to achieve and maintain
a strong, fulfilling quality of life. Organizations and
agencies help support individuals and family members,
healthcare professionals and administrators, educators,
caregivers, and others who work or live with Autism,
Asperger’s, or other Autism Spectrum Disorder.
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| American Art Therapy Association-National
Art Therapy Credentials Board
American Art Therapy Association-Chapters
Find An Art Therapist
Useful Links* Any reference to any entity, product, service, or information does not constitute an
endorsement or recommendation by American Art Therapy Association or Autism Society, or any chapters,
affiliates, officers, or employees. The Association and Society are not responsible for the contents of any
web pages referenced in this document.
4 Paws For Ability
ACT Today!
Advancing Futures For Adults With Autism
American Health Care Association
American Public Health Association - Mental Health
American Academy Of Pediatrics
Asperger Syndrome & High Functioning Autism
Association For Science In Autism Treatment
Autism 360 / Medigenesis
Autism Key
Autism National Committee
Autism One
Autism Research Institute
Autism Resources
Autism Science Foundation
Autism Society Of America
Autism Speaks
Autism Today
Autism Votes
CDC Autism Information Center
Community Services For Autistic Adults & Children
Dartmouth College / C. Everett Koop Institute
Easter Seals
Families USA
Global And Regional Asperger Syndrome
Healing Threshholds
Mayo Clinic
Medicare Rights Center
Melmark, Inc.
National Autism Association
National Center For Health Statistics
National Institute Of Mental Health
NIH Child Health & Human Development
Organization For Autism Research
Paws Four Autism, Inc.
Rutgers University Douglass Developmental
Disabilities Center, Inc.
SEARCH Family Autism Resource Center
Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Svcs Adm
Talk About Curing Autism
Talk Autism
The Dana Foundation
The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation
The Family Center On Technology & Disability
U.S. Autism & Asperger Association
Very Special Arts
Winnie Dunn Short Sensory Profile
Wrightslaw Special Education Law
Yale School Of Medicine Autism Program
Zero to Three
© 2013