Family Life

Communication Through The Arts For Children With Disabilities

fluteLife can be hard for children with disabilities. Athletic activities may be less practical for children with physical disabilities or difficulty balancing. However, the arts can be a safe space where they can express themselves, develop their minds and bond with others through creativity. Frequently, the challenge can be to get your child interested in an artistic endeavor.  Here are some ways you can help your child tap into their artistic side.

How the arts can help children with disabilities communicate  

The arts are important because even if your child has difficulty in academic subjects, you may find that they are naturally gifted in the arts. Engagement with the arts gives children, who may not be able to express themselves verbally, the opportunity to demonstrate their thoughts and feelings about a range of topics. The process of creation, whether it is visual art, music, or a dance routine, is powerful and helps to build self-esteem and confidence. This can lead to an in increased amount of determination to do well in all other areas of life including school.

Each type of fine art can benefit your child in different ways. Drawing, for example, helps to refine motor skills while teaching your child about shapes, shading, contrast, balance and other mathematical concepts.

How to help your child choose a fine art  

Occasionally, your child will gravitate to a particular subject, topic or form of expression on their own. This makes it significantly easier for you, as you will already have an idea of which type of artistic endeavor they will be interested in. In general, even if your child doesn’t have a particular focus of interest, it is relatively easy to tell. During free time, how does your child behave? Does he draw freehand, hum to himself, or move in rhythm in his chair? Also, how does your child act when around people? Is he gregarious and friendly or more withdrawn? Give them the opportunity to break away from established rules and express themselves artistically without any guidance other than their own inclination. Each of these can be indicating factors that can help you decide which fine art to enroll your child in.

Another way to discover your child’s interests is to expose them to different types of art – try playing different varieties of music, taking them to an art gallery, or going to see live theater. None of these activities are too strenuous for a child with disabilities and can be fascinating for children who have not experienced the arts in person before.

How to encourage your child in music  

If your child is musically inclined, the first task is to figure out what instrument they may wish to play. There are two ways to do this: either talk to them about what instruments they hear in different pieces and songs, or take them to a music shop and let them test out different instruments. Woodwinds including flutes, clarinets and saxophones, can be particularly good for children with impaired hearing, as they will still be able to feel the vibrations of the sound in the reed between their teeth as they play. To encourage your child to play their instrument, show genuine interest. Ask them questions about how their current piece is progressing, or even hold a home concert. If you are engaged in their artistic lives, they will be more likely to stick with it as they grow older.

Even if your child has had difficulty in school, becoming involved with the arts may be the way to get them interested in a wide variety of topics as their confidence builds. Showing excitement at each day’s progress will help raise their self-esteem even more.

Author of this article is Ashley Taylor   ashley@disabledparents.org