Creativity manifests itself in many ways and most people, even the most left-brained analytical person expresses themselves creatively in some way. Whether it’s through traditional means of expression such as painting, music, or poetry, or non-traditional forms like statements made in fashion sense, most people have a preferred medium to represent themselves or their feelings through. This is particularly interesting for people with autism because they often express themselves differently than their neurotypical peers. Art and expressions of creativity actually help to forge a deeper understanding for people with autism and many people use their creative pursuits to grow closer to their peers and to express their needs or decipher their own emotions.
Autism And Creativity
One of the commonalities that people who have autism struggle with is social understanding and social awareness. This has been thought of in the past as a deficiency in people with autism, as if they don’t have the ability to understand social cues or develop social awareness. We are finding out now as more and more money goes into the research for autism that many people with ASD do not have a dysfunctional social style, but one that is unique to them. This is a strength, not a weakness. People with autism are actually adept with what some call social creativity, expressing themselves differently from societal expectations. The dialogue around these societal expectations is changing and we are starting to celebrate this social creativity, rather than stifle it. Many people still believe that autism is steeped in logical processing, picturing the archetype popularized by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. While it’s true that many people with autism do find comfort and ease with logical processing, many of the people that the world has revered for their creativity have also had ASD.
Creativity As An Outlet
Creativity and expression are a cornerstone of the human experience. People with autism might think or process things differently, meaning that their understanding of creativity and imagination is not wrong, just different. It’s likely that, similar to the comfort of routine and schedule, creativity lives within a set of rules for people with autism. A person with ASD might not immediately express creativity, but if asked and directed, they may be able to generate something even more complex and innovative than anyone expected. For evidence, just look to the artistic talents of Stephen Wiltshire or Kambel Smith, the music of Derek Paravicini, the directing talent of Tim Burton and the on-screen charisma of greats like Daryl Hannah and Dan Aykroyd.
The Growing Popularity Of Art Therapy
In terms of treatment when it comes to ASD, the accepted model relies on behavior modification therapy, based on rewards and “consequences” for certain behaviors. However, therapists like the excellent staff at Lexington Services are augmenting the behavioral model with complementary therapies that support and grow understanding and independence. Art therapy is one such treatment that uses the production of art and the expression of creativity to help people with ASD process their emotions and communicate their desires, thoughts or concerns. Other programs like music therapy rely on creativity in the form of song, but use creative expression as a therapeutic tool. These therapies can help bridge gaps in communication, sensory processing and social awareness for people with autism.
Creativity In School
Taking a leaf from the therapeutic approach, many schools are choosing to include art and the expression of student creativity in their special education programs. The opportunity to express themselves or to engage with lessons brings students into the material and give them some control so they can grow. Plus artistic expression gives educators a window into the development and processing of a student through their art. Teaching and promoting creativity for communication and as a therapeutic tool can forge new connections for people with ASD and the people who have dedicated their life to affecting change for people with autism so they can thrive.
Are you looking for a great place for your student with autism to learn and make use of their artistic expression. At Lexington Life Academy, we celebrate creativity and use it as a tool to help students so they can grow. Contact our staff to schedule a tour by calling 480-900-1009 now.
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