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lj_milam
lj_milam asks:
Q:

What activities can a child with no artistic abilities (and special needs) do to develop this skill?

My 8 yr old son has Autism, high functioning, Aspergers PDD, SID, ADHD, PICA and Emotional Disturbance. His motor skill are very delayed and he finds it very difficult to print or draw. His ability is so under developed that it is embarrassing for him in school when the class is given an assignment or project to do. Most children enjoy drawing, coloring and doing art. I'm sure my son would also if he had any ability at all. What can I do to help facilitate these skills. I believe that it would be very beneficial for him to develop a sense of creativity.
In Topics: Creative arts, Special needs
> 60 days ago

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Expert

LouiseSattler
Jul 18, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Hello and thank you for writing to JustAsk,

I can only imagine how frustrating it is for you son in his classroom when he has so much on his developmental "plate".  Does he enjoy computer games?  Or hand held games?  The reason I suggest this is that he can develop some small motor skills and eye-hand coordination by using games that have an "art" quality to them. There are many educational programs that allow a child to use creativity without actually having to hold art materials.  Fine motor is accomplished, to some degree, by tapping on the keys. The computer would be good since he can't "eat" small materials customarily found in the art room (Hence, reducing the risk for the PICA) and also he can "erase" any mistakes.  

Using the PAINT function on a computer with any basic programs /accessories may be helpful, too.

Also, you may want to see if he can use the game/ toy- Colorforms -under supervision.  This allows him to be creative without having to hold an actual pencil or crayon.  Supervision should help with the PICA, too.  Fine motor is required to play with Colorforms.  They are now available at most large stores or toy stores.

And lastly,  LEGOS are an excellent way to be creative without holding pens, etc, too. I would suggest DUPLOS which are the larger LEGOS and less likely to be a choking hazard.

Good luck and I hope these suggestions are helpful to you. Remember the key is to ease in to an activity that is difficult and to do so with supervision since he does have a history of PICA and we want to keep him safe.

Regards,
Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist
Owner of Signing Families-  www.SigningFamilies.com


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Additional Answers (3)

aqblickley
aqblickley writes:
I think it's great that you're trying to get him more involved and confident at school, and working to promote his motor skills. I can only imagine how frustrating it can be for both of you, and I bet that your support means more to him than you know.

You may consider looking into activities specifically targeted for kids with special needs. We have a few art projects on our site that were written by a teacher who works at the Block Institute in New York, with kids and adults who have developmental difficulties. The links to some of my favorite activities are below: painting with Q-tips, painting with tissue paper, and making a fruit-loop bracelet (great for hand-eye coordination, and yummy, too)!

If he works on some of these projects in an environment where he feels comfortable and supported, like at home with a parent, hopefully he'll gradually develop the confidence to start working on crafts at school.

The last link I'm including is to an article about learning disabilities and the arts. It touches on some of the issues that it sounds like your child is facing, and provides ideas for activities that can help.

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lynellen
lynellen writes:
I applaud your insight into your son's possible embarrassement at school due to his poor writing and drawing skills.  Is it possible for you to find out what the upcoming art projects will be and help him practice at home prior to school?  If your son's verbal abilities are better than his motor skills, encourage him to talk himself through the activity as he does it.  Help him see the parts of an object (house: square plus triangle).  Step by step drawing books to follow may help.  

Has he been involved with an occupational or physical therapist?  They have many good ideas to help in the areas of motor as well as visualizing for drawing.
Resources:
> 60 days ago

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Patricia3755
Patricia3755 writes:
Gross motor skills develop before fine motor skills.  Let his body be the instrument by which "creative art" is born.  Instead of restricting him to using only his fine motor skills to create a masterpiece, allow him to use his whole body with various mediums and in a variety of settings.  Keep it fun!  For example, Finger painting paper and jello pudding
(eat while painting); food coloring mixed with water in a squirt gun - the paper may be hung in front of him or laid on the ground; step in paint with bare feet and walk across the paper on feet or feet and hands; lay down under a table and paint simple shapes onto a paper that has been taped to the underside of a table; pencil and paper with a partner who has the ability to add fine details and will allow your child to creatively "splash" color on by flicking a paint brush or dabbing a sponge or rolling a marble covered in paint over the picture.  Think outside the box... CREATE!
> 60 days ago

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