Art Therapy For Kids With Developmental Disabilities

Jul 21, 2023

What is a Developmental Disability in Children?

Developmental disabilities are conditions that arise as a result of impairment in physical, learning, language or behavioural growth. Conditions such as these often begin during gestation, but can often-times only begin in development after-birth due to environmental and psychological factors at play in the child’s first living environment. Most of these types of disabilities impact day-to-day functioning , and usually last throughout a person’s entire life.

What are some examples of developmental disabilities?

  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Cerebral Palsy.
  • Intellectual Disability.
  • Fragile X Syndrome.
  • Language Disorders.
  • Learning Disorders.
  • Tourette Syndrome.

Sadly, most of the above-mentioned disorders include limitations in functioning resulting from disorders in the developing nervous system. These limitations manifest during infancy or childhood as delays in reaching developmental milestones or as lack of function in one or multiple domains, including cognition, motor performance, vision, hearing and speech, and behaviour. Unfortunately in the developing world, there are severely limited resources for mental-health care than there is for physical health-care. In most of the developing world, resources for mental health care are far more limited than those for physical care. Therefore, the majority of children with psychological or behavioural disorders go undiagnosed or untreated. Although formal data are lacking, it is probable that behavioural problems are more common in low-income than in wealthier countries because of the excess prevalence of poverty, war, famine, and natural disasters in the developing world. What many people do not understand is how poverty greatly increases a child’s risk for developmental disabilities. Deficits in cognitive development can also arise from ( including ALL socio-economic class distinctions) :

  • Suboptimal maternal education
  • Emotional and Psychological
  • neglect post-birth
  • Physical abuse during gestation

How Art Therapy Helps:

At Clay Café, we have fostered an environment that lends itself to the health of the mind , body and the spirit! Through the seamless flow of a creativity-inspired environment, the inclusion of a nutrient-dense focused menu and the addition of soothing music, Clay Café is sure to hit all the right notes of a peaceful environment. With a decor theme designed to instil peace, our nature-meets-industrial feel is well adjusted to a creative environment, well let’s just say that anyone can benefit from the therapeutic experience we offer at Clay Cafés around the Country! From the stressed out business executive, to the tired and exhausted single Mum all the way to the subjects of this very Blog – Kids with developmental disabilities. Clay Café is a soothing retreat for the heart and soul that helps everyone.

Image: Painting is like “Brain-Gym” for kids with developmental obstacles.

Clay Café helps adults and children alike:

Here is some more information about the art therapy we offer at Clay Café. It helps adults and children alike with developmental disabilities: Improved Communication and Self-Expression: As art therapy provides a non-verbal outlet for children with developmental disabilities to express their thoughts and feelings, this empowers them to communicate effectively through paint and play. Because of the fact that art promotes freedom of expression, this literally helps children to calm down, relax, and ‘think’ differently. Art is a subjective form of self-expression. There is no such thing as “good’ art or ‘bad’ art. Art is ART if it truly is an expression of what the person is thinking and feeling in the moment. It’s a universal ideation. Painting Ceramics ( which is only ONE type of art therapy that can be spread out across this subject ) can help kids with disabilities feel more independent, more confident and most importantly, increase their self-esteem!

Image: The simple ethos behind art-therapy – “Mental Wellness”

How Do You Teach Art To Those With Special Needs?

At Clay Café we have a gentle and unique understanding of what it requires to assist any adult or child with special needs, and to adapt our conveyance of our offerings accordingly. Although we are not Mental-Health professionals or Physicians and do not claim to be, it is a substantial FACT that our years and years of teaching Ceramic Painting to people from all walks of life has developed the training of our staff into a unique paradigm in the hospitality industry. Staff are trained to give short and helpful presentations when new guests arrive , that allow for everyone to understand what our therapeutic experiences are all about. Clay Café staff and management are a team that can adapt their presentations of our “Art Therapy & Dining Experience” to anyone.

Image: Tips for adapting art for kids with special needs:

  • Present and explain art projects with one step directions.
  • Give kids with special needs more time.
  • Try presenting information in a visual format.
  • Demonstrate what you would like the artist to do.
  • Offer alternative ways of doing things.

So, Just How Do Children Learn Through Art?

When a child draws, paints, makes a mosaic or sculpts clay, children are learning about the World around them. Colours, shapes, and the sizes of objects are the first parts of art therapy that begin to heal the mind of someone who has an impairment. When kids use paints, glitter, markers, stencils, crayons, etc. what actually happens is that they are using cognitive function in a HIGHLY-ADAPTIVE manner, to plan, to try out new things, and to solve problems. Whilst kids are mixing paints, they realise quickly that one thing can make changes in another. The theory of “Art Therapy” has now developed into a mainstream scientific outlet for psychiatric care and progression. The mainstream Scientific community now publicly acknowledges that art therapy can foster healing and impact on emotional well-being. It lets individuals communicate their personal experiences. It has been proven that creativity allows people to discover their self-identity. The attainability of a sense of calmness is also associated with a person’s ability to ‘self-heal’. The artist can then convey their own personal, inner experiences in a beautiful way.

Pablo Picasso giving a drawing lesson to his children Paloma and Claude, and two friends. Photograph by Rene Burri / Magnum.

Image: Pablo Picasso giving a drawing lesson to his children Paloma and Claude, and two friends. Photograph by Rene Burri / Magnum.

As Pablo Picasso once said, “Colours, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.”

Any child with Dyslexia, ADHD, or any other learning disorder has the potential for artistic expression. It doesn’t matter WHAT the disability is – physical or psychological, we can adapt our painting experience at Clay Café so that anyone with limitations can still participate – in some way or other – in the extremely beautiful participation of Art Therapy at Clay Café I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” — Albert Einstein

Image: Art education at Clay Café

Arts education is a key to creativity. Creativity is an essential component of innovation. Innovation is necessary to create new industries in the futureNew industries, with their jobs, are the basis of our future economic well-being“Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life” — Pablo Picasso


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