I would like to welcome another guest blogger, Johanna Cider, to The Journey Through Autism! Johanna Cider is a freelance writer from New Zealand with a passion for writing about fun activities for kids. You can read more of her work on Tumblr. This is a nice post with some unique ideas! If you try any of these, comment below on how they work out!
Parenting can be tough at the best of times, and parenting children with Autism is certainly no exception. It’s normal to wonder if your child is progressing like other children, and if your child is on the spectrum, you might find yourself wondering why they don’t seem to be as prone to creativity as their peers or siblings. If you’re wondering how to introduce creative activities to a child with Autism, consider the following ideas:
Plant A Garden With Your Child
Gardening can be both a way to express creatively and a way to find peace in our busy lives – this is true for children and adults alike. Additionally, giving children an appreciation for nature and growing their own food from an early age will serve them well in later years. Help your child to create a long-term goal related to their garden, such as eating the strawberries that will grow from the seeds or cuttings they’ve planted, and allow them to take a key role in the maintenance of the garden. Depending on their age and ability level, they might be able to water plants, weed, and harvest fruit or vegetables when they’re ready.
Teach Your Child How To Craft
Children who find communicating difficult might be able to express themselves more clearly through art. Crafting is a broad term that encompasses all kinds of creative activities, so you have a range of options when teaching your child how to craft. You might like to try simple activities, such as creating edible jewellery, or painting with ice if your child is resistant to mess. If your child likes order and stability, give them materials that they can match by color or shape to create their own unique artwork.
Build An Activity For Your Child
Creating an activity area for your child, which they can explore as they please, can be extremely beneficial in helping them to unleash their creativity spontaneously. You might like to dedicate a spare room to this task, or use an old shipping container for an extra-special separate play area – its location away from other rooms may help to prevent overstimulation. Include objects that encourage sensory play, such as sand or slime, and perhaps include an art station where they can work with different materials to create art of their choosing.
For many, routine is an important part of daily life. To this end, take things slowly. You might like to incorporate one creative activity per day, or per week if you worry about your child’s ability to adapt to new routines. Start slow – your child isn’t going to be the next Van Gogh within a week, but if you show him or her how to make surface rubbings, in which they place a sheet of paper over an object and create a reproduction with colored pencils, they might well come up with their own ideas during your next session. Some children with Autism are very good at thinking outside of the box, which is undoubtedly a good skill to carry into adulthood. Be sure to praise your child for his or her novel insights! Above all, try not to compare your child to others.
Of course, this is much easier said than done, but wondering how much more creative your child would be if he or she were neurotypical will only serve to distress you. Try to focus instead on what they’re doing well. While creativity seems to come naturally to neurotypical children, those with Autism often need a little extra encouragement. It’s worth encouraging your child, though, as there are plenty of benefits associated with creativity: in particular, an improved attention span and a reduction in anxiety levels.