top of page

The arts are for everyone! A brief overview of how the arts can benefit children with disabilities


The arts are for everyone! A brief overview of how the arts can benefit children with disabilities - The Occupational Therapy Hub
Photo credit: Cottonbro Studio, via Pexels

The arts are often forgotten when considering therapy options for children with learning and developmental disabilities. Painting, drawing, music, dance and theatre can provide a range of benefits for them (and those facilitating such activities). In 5 Fun and Educational Activities with Children, Katie Pierce and The Occupational Therapy Hub explore some of these in more detail (why not take a read after this article?)



Find the right medium


There are a breadth of arts in which you can encourage your child, or those you support in clinical practice, to participate and thrive within. Let them experiment and see which one brings out their inner artist.


Painting and Drawing


One of the benefits of painting, drawing, and even crafting for children with learning disabilities (US: intellectual disabilities) is that it can help them to improve their fine motor skills (Pierce, 2022), encourage creativity, and reduce stress. Additionally, painting and drawing can also help children with sensory needs or developmental disabilities express themselves in a non-verbal way (Pandey, 2022). For children who struggle to express themselves verbally, painting and drawing can be helpful outlets.


Music


Learning to play music can also be beneficial for children with learning disabilities; music can help to improve memory, attention span and coordination (Palmer, 2022). Alongside these cognitive benefits, music has also been shown to reduce stress levels and anxiety. For children with learning disabilities who experience anxiety or stress, taking music lessons can be a great way to help them cope.



The arts are for everyone! A brief overview of how the arts can benefit children with disabilities - The Occupational Therapy Hub


Theatre


Theatre provides an opportunity for children to develop confidence and public speaking abilities. Additionally, participation can also help children to improve problem-solving skills, as they learn to work together as part of a team; for children who struggle socially, theatre could provide a much-needed outlet (All About Therapy, 2023).


Dance


Like music, dance can also help to improve coordination and memory (Studio Director, 2021). Of course, dance is also a great way to get some exercise. In turn, this has a host of benefits, including reducing stress levels, improving sleep quality and supporting overall mental health. For children with learning disabilities who have trouble getting regular exercise, taking a dance class could be a great solution.


The arts are for everyone! A brief overview of how the arts can benefit children with disabilities - The Occupational Therapy Hub


Offer space to build on their artistry


If you are looking for a way to update your home and to give your child a space to express their creativity, consider updating a multi-purpose room into a studio. Whilst providing that space to create or develop artistic passion, this can also be a great way to improve your home's value (Redfin, 2023). If the physical environment does not allow for converting an entire room into a studio, you could also create a mini version, by setting up a workstation in another room of the house or flat.


If you work from home, try to design this creative space with that in mind. It can be difficult to juggle parenting and work - especially in the same location - but setting up a space where you can keep an eye on your little artist while you get some work done can be a great compromise. But remember the importance of taking breaks, to make time to spend with your child (Zen Business, 2021). There is arguably nothing better than doing something together that your child loves.


It does not matter if you cannot draw or have no rhythm, the point is that you do something meaningful together.

The arts are for everyone! A brief overview of how the arts can benefit children with disabilities - The Occupational Therapy Hub


A bonus: New business for you?


If you find joy in teaching your kids how to engage in artistic expression, it could be worth considering starting a business in this field. This can be a great way to make some extra money, whilst also doing something you love. There are a variety of ways to start an art-based business; you could start by teaching classes out of your home, or by renting space at a community centre. Additionally, you could start selling your artwork online, or through local art galleries.



The take-away: Let your kids be artists


As you can see, there are many benefits to engaging your child (or those you support in practice) in creative-based occupations. Not only will they likely have fun, the arts can help to improve fine motor skills, memory, attention span, coordination, confidence and public speaking. If you are looking for leisure activities that can help children in multiple areas of their lives, the arts may be the perfect fit!




 

References


All About Therapy (2023) 7 Surprising Benefits of Theatre Involvement for Kids with Intellectual Disabilities. All About Therapy (online). Available from: https://allabouttherapyforkids.com/7-surprising-benefits-theatre-involvement-kids-intellectual-disabilities/. Accessed 18 March 2023.


Palmer, J. (2022) The Powerful Impacts Of Music For Those With Learning Difficulties. New Directions (online). Available from: https://newdirectionsrugby.org.uk/the-powerful-impacts-of-music-for-those-with-learning-difficulties/. Accessed 18 March 2023.


Pandey, A. (2022) 5 Simple Art Projects For a Child with Special Needs. Autism Parenting Magazine (online). Available from: https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/art-projects-for-special-needs/. Accessed 18 March 2023.


Pierce, K. (2022) 5 Fun and Educational Activities with Children. The Occupational Therapy Hub > Therapy Articles (online). Available from: https://www.theothub.com/article/5-fun-and-educational-activities-with-children. Accessed 18 March 2023.


Redfin (2023) How to Increase Your Home Appraisal Value. Redfin (online). Available from: https://www.redfin.com/guides/how-to-increase-your-home-appraisal-value-now. Accessed 18 March 2023.


Studio Director (2021) The Benefits Of Dance Classes For Special Needs Students. Studio Director (online). Available from: https://www.thestudiodirector.com/blog/the-benefits-of-dance-classes-for-individuals-with-special-needs/. Accessed 18 March 2023.


Zen Business (2021). Working Moms: How to Prioritize Kids During Busy Seasons. Zen Business (online). Available from: https://www.zenbusiness.com/blog/working-moms-how-prioritize-kids-during-busy-seasons/. Accessed 18 March 2023.

1 Comment


Unknown member
Mar 28, 2023

Fabulous what great overview of creativity as meaningful occupational engagement for children and family lifestyle and for this who just like to share their passion of creativity with all thank you.

Like
bottom of page