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Art Therapy and Autism – Coloring and Paint by Numbers

art therapy autism

Art therapy not only provides those with autism a visual tool for communication, but gives them real, tangible relief and connection with the world around them.

For this reason, we’ve collected some of the best kits that can be used for art therapy with autism!

What is Autism Spectrum?

Autism spectrum disorders are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause social, communication and behavioral issues.

These symptoms can be quite debilitating that it affects the daily life of children with autism. The autism spectrum disorder is the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

There is no specific cause, and there is no cure for these disorders. However, with early intervention, treatment, and therapy, many people with these disorders can lead healthy, productive lives.

art therapy in autism

Symptoms of Autism in Children

Autistic children often manifest poor communication skills. They may also engage in repetitive behaviors, which interfere with their social interactions.

Some people with autism spectrum disorders have poor social skills resulting to limited verbal interaction, and may have difficulty understanding spoken language. They also have difficulty expressing ideas.

Others may be highly verbal but have difficulty understanding other people’s perspectives. The autism spectrum is complex, and each person with an autism spectrum disorder has a unique set of symptoms. However, all autism spectrum disorders share some common features.

art in autism

What is Art Therapy?

Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art as a way of helping children develop new skills. Art therapy may also be referred to as other artistic media therapy or fine arts therapy.

Artistic media used in art therapy can include painting, drawing, sculpting, and collage. These therapists typically work one on one with children, but they may also work with groups.

What is the American Art Therapy Association?

Founded in 1969, the American Art Therapy Association is a professional organization dedicated to delivering art therapy. Art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses art-making or art therapy sessions to help people express themselves and promote healthy self-expression.

Art therapists are trained in both art and psychology, and they use their knowledge to deliver art therapy services. The Association works to support therapists and advance the field of autism art therapy by providing resources, promoting research, and advocating for art therapists.

By supporting art therapists and promoting the power of art therapy, the American Art Therapy Association is working to improve the lives of people across the country.

artist for autism

What are Art Therapists?

Art therapists are licensed mental health professionals who use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to develop social skills, improve reality orientation, and increase self-esteem.

Art therapy activities may be directive or non-directive and are often customized to the individual client’s age, interests, culture, art experience, and treatment goals. An art therapist works in a variety of settings.

To help with the social development and sensory difficulties that often accompany ASD, more parents and teachers are turning to these therapists.

art therapy activities for autism

How Does Art Therapy Help People With Autism?

Art therapy is often used as a way to help develop creative expression and lessen or help distress and pain.

Art therapy activities involve art projects that are geared toward promoting healthy self expression and emotional well-being. It is also designed to help improve communication styles, fine motor skills, and everyday life skills in general.

There’s no one specific approach to art therapy. Different art classes work for different people. It can be goal-oriented or open-ended, organized or free-flowing. It also depends on whether they’re high-functioning or low-functioning.

That’s what makes art therapy so wonderful. It benefits all ages!

Meanwhile, a vast majority of the ASD community has an extraordinary ability to think and visualize “in pictures.”

Many people may put that talent to good use by using sketching or other creative mediums in processing memories, recording images and visual information, and communicating their thoughts and feelings. Overtime, many children exhibits enhanced communication skills.

art therapy spectrum

Benefits of Art Therapy

Kids with autism benefit from participating in arts and crafts because they are more likely to accept sensory inputs (such the feel of a construction paper or the scent of paint) that they might otherwise want to avoid. The other benefits include the following:

  • Promotes emotions, self-expression, and feelings
  • Develops problem-solving skills
  • Develops self stimulating behavior
  • Helps with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPDs)
  • Healthy coping and interpersonal skills
  • Improves fine motor skills, visual skills
  • Improves symbolical thinking and the ability to respond to facial expressions
  • Helps with processing memories

autism art

How to Help Autistic People With Art Therapy

Art therapy is a support system for autistic people of all ages. It’s quite effective with children between ages 2 to 15.

The best way to help autistic people with art therapy is through guided encouragement. According to Dr. Theresa Van Lith of Florida State University, some of the best practices of art therapy include:

  • Follow the same routine when beginning each session
  • Explain instructions in a soft manner
  • Encourage curiosity in a new skill
  • Avoid being overly directive

With that said, try not to be overly strict with the instructions as this could result to adverse effects on children with autism. A few of the best practices found include having a set pattern to kick off each session, being clear and consistent when explaining directions, using curiosity to pique students’ interest in learning, and being cognizant of when to transition from one activity to another.

You must also take note of any sensory issues they may have, as over-stimulating art materials may become too restrictive.

5 Best Paint by Numbers Kits for Autism Art Therapy

As follows are some of the best paint by numbers kits for art therapy!

1. Coolstek Paint by Numbers Kit

Coolstek Paint by Numbers Kits for Kids Adults Beginner, DIY Acrylic Oil Painting On Canvas,8 x 8 inch 3 Pack-with Framed
  • ✅UNLEASH YOUR INNER CREATIVITY & HAVE FUN with the Coolstek exclusive paint by numbers kit for children and adults!
  • ✅PAINT YOUR OWN MASTERPIECE with our DIY acrylic painting kit, which includes 3pcs 20x20CMcanvas with Wooden Framed , 3 brushes and 1 set of...
  • ✅SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH YOUR FAMILY and bond over a stunning piece of art! Our DIY paint-by-numbers set is the perfect indoor activity for the...

The Coolstek paint by numbers kit is a great project to work on alongside an autistic individual. Every kit comes with three pictures to paint, all of which are brightly colored and full of emotion. Every image is paired with a wooden frame, three brushes, and a set of high-quality acrylic paints.

Art therapists recommend starting small before moving on to more complicated paintings.

What’s Included In the Kit?

2. Museum Series by Faber-Castell

Faber-Castell Color by Number Woodland Forest Friends - Color and Display 1 Color by Number Board, 14 Piece Set
  • COLOR WITH MARKERS: Bring your forest friends to life with 10 vibrant Faber-Castell quality Grip Color Markers. Kit includes markers,...
  • QUALITY ART SUPPLIES: Faber-Castell Grip Color Markers are built to last! Re hydrate the nibs with water for continued coloring
  • EASY TO DO: Use the numbered color guide or go your own way! Its easy to color your Forest Friends

What better way to inspire young artists than to introduce them to the stunning works of some of the best-known artists in the world?

The Museum Series by Faber-Castell shows six different masterpieces: Van Gogh’s ever-famous Starry Night, Sunflowers, and Irises; Claude Monet’s The Japanese Footbridge and Water Lilies; and George Seurat’s The Eiffel Tower.

A personal favorite of mine is Claude Monet’s The Japanese Footbridge, because of its beautiful portrayal of nature. The color patterns aren’t overly complicated and don’t require too much effort to paint. Even so, the painting is quite beautiful. As they say, simplicity is beauty!

A little-known fact about Van Gogh is that he was suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Knowing that one of the most well-loved painters belongs to the ASD community may encourage young and old autistic artists to further their creative process.

What’s Included In the Kit?

3. Faber-Castell Paint by Numbers Foil Fun Series – Unicorns

Faber-Castell Paint by Number Foil Fun - Unicorns - Color and Display 1 Unicorn Paint by Number Board
  • KIDS PAINT BY NUMBER - The paint is in the pencils! Use Faber-Castell Watercolor Eco Pencils to bring your Unicorn to life in vibrant color.
  • COMPLETE PAINT BY NUMBER SET - Comes with everything you need to paint 1 unicorn illustration board. Kit includes: (7) Faber-Castell Watercolor...
  • FOIL FUN UNICORN ART - A must have art activity for unicorn fanatics! The included paint by number board features gold foil accents to add a...

Compared to the Faber-Castell Museum series, the Foil Fun series is available in both acrylic paints and watercolor pencils. This is great news for those who are not too fond of painting with acrylic!

Autistic children and beginner artists may find it difficult to paint with a brush, so being able to use color pencils in its place is a lifesaver. Best of all, the colored pencils are eco-friendly and non-toxic!

What’s Included In the Kit?

  • Seven Faber-Castell eco-friendly watercolor pencils
  • One 9 x 9-inch pre-printed illustration board
  • One paint brush
  • Foam display
  • Mounting tape

4. Ledgebay Paint by Numbers Day to Remember

Ledgebay Paint by Numbers Kit for Adults: Beginner to Advanced Number Painting Kit - Fun DIY Arts & Crafts | Color by Numbers for Adults - Kits Include - (Mountain Village 16" x 20" Unframed)
  • REAL LICENSED ARTWORK - Our paint by numbers for adults with the Ledgebay kit features designs from authentic licensed artwork. The artist makes...
  • ROLLED PACKAGING - When it comes to protecting your paints, nobody does it better than Ledgebay. Their DIY painting by numbers for adults kit has...
  • VACUUM SEALED - With our adult paint by number kits, you can keep your paint fresh and flexible for a long time. The vacuum-sealed design...

If you’re searching for a more challenging piece, check out this beautiful kit by Ledgebay!

While difficult, Ledgebay made sure to provide artists with a full set of instructions to complete the piece. Ledgebay also included a wooden easel to make painting comfortable and easy.

What’s Included In the Kit?

  • Set of acrylic paints
  • Four differently sized paint brushes
  • One 16 x 20-inch canvas and easel
  • One 4 x 5 color reference picture
  • One sample reference on paper

5. Acerich Paint by Number Mountains

This paint by numbers kit by Acerich is simple yet stunning. Acerich’s Mountains depicts scenery of a mountainous lake under a bright full moon.

Apart from its easy-to-follow instructions, this kit has multiple larger-to-fill areas that make it easy to complete. It’s colorful, too, making it a beautiful art piece to hang on your walls.

What’s Included In the Kit?

  • One 16 x 20-inch pre-printed art canvas
  • One set of acrylic paints
  • Three brushes
  • Two hooks
  • Reference drawing

autism art activities

Art Therapy Autism – Closing Thoughts

Many children engage in some type of art activity on a daily basis, whether it be drawing, painting, sculpting, or collage. Art offers many benefits to children, including the opportunity to express themselves visually, work through emotions, and improve fine motor skills.

Although most parents view art as a fun activity for their children, more and more research is showing that art can also be therapeutic. Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that uses art as a means of communication.

It is often used to treat children who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. The most common goals of art therapy are to reduce stress, promote self-awareness, and improve social skills.

Many child psychiatrists and psychologists believe that art therapy can be an extremely powerful tool in helping children to cope with a variety of mental and emotional issues.

Using paint by numbers as a form of art therapy is greatly effective and reduces anxiety, stress, and feelings of depression. Good luck, and have fun!

CLICK HERE to shop our complete selection of high quality paint by numbers kits!

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