It is hard for most of us to imagine a life in which we can’t express how we feel. We talk and text and post about our responses to what is occurring throughout the day. However those emotions and expressions can be extremely difficult for children with learning disabilities. Thankfully, creative activities offer the outlet those kids desperately need.
Healthy benefits. Being creative is beneficial to all of us. The arts aren’t just for entertainment and pleasure; creativity is part of what makes us human. As some research shows, doing something creative can benefit our mental health by helping to manage deep emotional traumas, improving one’s sense of self, and helping to maintain a more positive outlook on life. Our physical health also benefits from artistic endeavors, with better brain functioning, improved pain management, reduced responses to stressful situations, and better immune system health.
Vital for expression. For children with learning disabilities, the benefits of creative activities are even more meaningful. As explained by Parent Guide News, “While art is important for all children, it’s crucial for kids with special needs. Artistic activities directly exercise and strengthen the cognitive and physical skills that generally challenge special needs children, such as oral, tactile, visual, sensory and motor skills.” Through the arts, special needs children have better physical and cognitive development, enhanced ability to problem solve, improved critical-thinking skills, a better ability to set goals, and improved social skills. Children’s capability to make plans grows, as well as their self-esteem and sense of achievement.
Making art accessible. One of the challenges for involving special needs children in the arts is making creative activities accessible. Thankfully, there are many ways to navigate this issue, depending on individual needs and limitations.
Drawing, painting and crafting. The University of Tennessee at Knoxville notes a number of options, such as altering desk height or angle, using non-slip materials for ease of handling, using large-handled tools such as paintbrushes and pencils, and using adaptive scissors. Some children can better participate with precut materials or by using larger materials, or an adult may need to do the final assembly with the child’s input on where things go in his or her creation. Families can benefit by creating a designated hobby room for children with learning disabilities so they can work freely on their activities without concern for messes.
Textile arts. Although it might seem a little old-fashioned to some people, textile arts are a fantastic way to inject some much-needed creativity into your child’s life. Whether it’s sewing, knitting, or crocheting, there many healthy benefits associated with this form of creativity. What’s more, there are countless informative resources on the internet to help you and your child begin a hobby that could benefit them for many years to come.
Performance. When it comes to activities such as dance, some experts recommend focusing on options appropriate for your child’s age, and looking for both freestyle and choreographed activities. Children benefit from both, since freestyle allows for more self-expression, and a structured dance encourages better impulse control, following of directions, teamwork, and listening skills. Playing music is also a boon, since children can improve their gait through learning steady rhythms and routine. To get your child started on the road to musicianship, introduce them to instruments such as flutes, tubas, and cellos, just to name a few. Although you might prefer your child to play one over the other, it’s important to let them choose which one they prefer. Otherwise, they might not stick with it.
Community theater groups and clubs may offer opportunities for children with learning disabilities as well. According to some professionals, participating in group activities offers unique benefits, as special needs children can better develop emotionally and socially through the interaction. Plays and other performances can often be modified to accommodate wheelchairs and other mobility issues, and some troupes offer special performance classes specifically oriented toward special needs children. There are also camps which cater to children with learning disabilities. Some offer year-round participation, and some are seasonal. You can reach out to travel agents who focus on special needs travel accommodations in order to make arrangements for your child and to further explore possibilities.
Creativity for growth. Children with learning disabilities have much to gain from participating in the arts. It’s important to make opportunities and accommodations so they can enjoy creative activities. Through the arts, children with learning disabilities can blossom!
Lillian Brooks is the founder of learningdisabilities.info. For years, Lillian worked as a special education teacher with a focus on teaching children with learning disabilities. She created learningdisabilities.info to offer information and understanding to parents of children with learning disabilities, as well as adults who are in need of continued support in order to succeed.