Art & Crafts for Children With Autism

    by Susan Berg

    About the Author

    Susan Berg has a BS degree in Medical Technology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and an AS degree as a Certified Occupational Therapy AssistantCOTA/L) - North Shre Community College-Massachusetts. She is as a Certified Dementia Practitioner(CDP), .Berg has written for 10 years. She authored the book, "Adorable Photographs of Our Baby", and currently writes for "Activity Director Today" and "Current Activities in Geriatric Care".



    Children with autism may enjoy completing simple art activities as part of their lessons. Be patient and encourage students to do as much as they can on their own. Remember, it is the process of doing the arts activity and the socialization that count, not the final product. Adapt the arts activities to meet the level of ability of each child. Be supportive and offer help if the child is struggling.

    Music Art

    In this art activity, children place the tip of their pencils or magic markers in the middle of an 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper and close their eyes. Start playing a song on the CD player. Participants will move their writing implements to mimic the instruments or rhythms of the music. Change the music periodically throughout the activity. When most of the papers are filled with lines, ask the students to open their eyes. They then can admire their work. For higher-functioning children with autism, allow them to color in the spaces between the lines to make a design.

    Shoe Fish

    To begin this art activity, give each child an old shoe. Have him trace the shoe onto an 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper. Collect the shoes so the students are not be distracted by them. Then have the children draw the fins, gills, eyes, mouth and scales of fish on the outlines of shoes they have just traced. When they are done drawing all the parts, have them color the fish with markers.
    To make this art project special, you or they can cut out the outlines of their fish. Then glue all the fish onto a huge piece of blue paper. Have the higher-level children draw other fish that would be in an aquarium on the paper. You can then have a discussion about fish in an aquarium, lake or ocean.

    Tissue Paper Butterflies

    This arts activity starts by having the children with autism rip up colored tissue paper into small pieces. Make sure to have a lot of different colors. Have at least three pieces of tissue paper per participant. When the paper is all ripped up, put it aside. Now give each participant a wet 8.5-by-11-inch piece of white paper. Alternately, you can use wet coffee filters. Also, you can have higher-functioning children spray the papers or filters with water. Make sure these students do not spray each other. Another idea for wetting the paper is to have the students paint the water on the paper with paintbrushes. This will give the students another small motor experience.
    Give each student his pile of ripped tissue paper. Have them all pass the colors around so that each person has at least three different colors. Place the ripped tissue paper on the wet paper or filter. Let it dry about 15 minutes. When you remove the tissue paper, the colors from it will remain. You could also have the students place the tissue paper on one side of the paper only, and fold the paper in half. The colors will transfer from one side of the paper to the other.
    If you are using coffee filters, place one filter on top of the other with the tissue paper in the middle. Take a pipe cleaner and wrap it around the center of the colored filter or paper. Bend the ends to look like the antennas of a butterfly.

    Photo Credits

    • Katy McDonnell/Digital Vision/Getty Images