How art projects can help autistic children with their motor skills

November 3, 2022

According to one study, up to 80% of autistic children show deficits in motor skills when compared to neurotypical children their age. This is due to neurodevelopmental issues, particularly in the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain which controls balance and coordination. In fact, motor control challenges are often the first signs of autism in infants, meaning it is something to look out for when it comes to identifying autism in your children. 

Fortunately, the brain is famously plastic, which means that autistic children need not suffer poor motor skills as long as they get sufficient practice completing activities that test their abilities. Obviously, those tasks should be fun, which makes art, whether that be with a paintbrush or pencil, the perfect training tool for many autistic children who are often extremely creative but struggle to find a suitable form of expression. 

So, without further ado, here are some top tips for adults who are looking to improve the motor skills of their autistic children.

  1. Together is better

We recommend that you and your autistic child carry out artistic projects together. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, autistic children often struggle with frustration and disappointment, and they will feel far more comfortable confronting these difficult emotions in a safe environment with a parent at hand. Second, shared projects are a fantastic way for your child to learn how to work in a team and use communication to solve difficult problems. Finally, you can use this activity as an opportunity to teach your younger autistic child about shapes and colours.

  1. Try not to worry about the final picture

No one is expecting Monet or Van Gogh level work here. That is not the point. If anything, if your autistic child senses any level of expectation of artistic ability from you, that will develop into a pressure that they might feel particularly heavily. Focus instead on enjoying the process, watching your autistic child grow whilst you form a strong parent-child relationship with them.

  1. Adapt to their fine motor skill difficulties

Pencils and finely-tipped paintbrushes may be out of the question if your autistic child struggles particularly with their fine motor skills. Instead, you could use large grip crayons, bigger pieces of paper and larger paint brushes. Your child may also find it easier to draw or paint upright rather than on a flat table, so you might want to think about buying an easel or using Blu-Tack to stick the paper to a wall.

Source: 

Becker E. & Stoodley C. (2013) Autism spectrum disorder and the cerebellum Front Psychol. Int Rev Neurobiol. 113:1-34.

How art projects can help autistic children with their motor skills

November 3, 2022

According to one study, up to 80% of autistic children show deficits in motor skills when compared to neurotypical children their age. This is due to neurodevelopmental issues, particularly in the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain which controls balance and coordination. In fact, motor control challenges are often the first signs of autism in infants, meaning it is something to look out for when it comes to identifying autism in your children. 

Fortunately, the brain is famously plastic, which means that autistic children need not suffer poor motor skills as long as they get sufficient practice completing activities that test their abilities. Obviously, those tasks should be fun, which makes art, whether that be with a paintbrush or pencil, the perfect training tool for many autistic children who are often extremely creative but struggle to find a suitable form of expression. 

So, without further ado, here are some top tips for adults who are looking to improve the motor skills of their autistic children.

  1. Together is better

We recommend that you and your autistic child carry out artistic projects together. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, autistic children often struggle with frustration and disappointment, and they will feel far more comfortable confronting these difficult emotions in a safe environment with a parent at hand. Second, shared projects are a fantastic way for your child to learn how to work in a team and use communication to solve difficult problems. Finally, you can use this activity as an opportunity to teach your younger autistic child about shapes and colours.

  1. Try not to worry about the final picture

No one is expecting Monet or Van Gogh level work here. That is not the point. If anything, if your autistic child senses any level of expectation of artistic ability from you, that will develop into a pressure that they might feel particularly heavily. Focus instead on enjoying the process, watching your autistic child grow whilst you form a strong parent-child relationship with them.

  1. Adapt to their fine motor skill difficulties

Pencils and finely-tipped paintbrushes may be out of the question if your autistic child struggles particularly with their fine motor skills. Instead, you could use large grip crayons, bigger pieces of paper and larger paint brushes. Your child may also find it easier to draw or paint upright rather than on a flat table, so you might want to think about buying an easel or using Blu-Tack to stick the paper to a wall.

Source: 

Becker E. & Stoodley C. (2013) Autism spectrum disorder and the cerebellum Front Psychol. Int Rev Neurobiol. 113:1-34.

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