Art as a Sensory Experience

On the table are shaving cream, a box top, and marbles. These are the sensory objects being used in an art therapy experience for children with autism. Through the volunteer efforts of a local university, the children will have a time to play as they have not before.

One table has tempera paint, flattened aluminum trays and shaving cream. The project starts by putting the shaving cream on the tray. Next, the tempera paint. The child swirls the combination around with her fingers, then presses the construction paper on the concoction; after removing the shaving cream, a picture is created. The focus of the project is not to create a specific project, but to have an art experience. An example: One child finds himself enjoying the texture of the shaving cream. His creative process moves to his shaping and lifting the shaving cream creating his own masterpiece in mid air. In this situation the focus is turned from a volunteer directed project to an experience that meets the specific desires of the child.

Another child drops marbles in a box top. On the bottom of the box top is a piece of construction paper with dots of tempera paint. The child is encouraged to move the box top from side to side creating lines of all colors. The skills incorporated in this project include a multiple sensory experiences, fine and gross motor skills. These skills may also be developing in the school setting when involved in school provided autism therapy.

The intention of these and other activities is for the child to share an artistic interpretation of life with autism. The children are in an atmosphere where the autism therapy and autism management they receive can be put into practice while creating masterpieces to be displayed and enjoyed by the community.


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