Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) include all pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) within a group of developmental disabilities including Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), and Rett Syndrome. Each have a neurologic basis; they are caused by a brain disorder which affects how an individual thinks, communicates, and interacts with others. The manifestations of ASD vary greatly depending on the developmental level and chronological age of the individual.
The creative art therapies supply a rich environment for sensory integration, where music, art, dance, or drama may be utilized to target and approach the learning style and needs of a person within the ASD spectrum. Sensory integration is a process used by the brain to locate, sort, and make sense out of incoming sensory information. During a creative arts therapy session sensory stimuli may be delivered through visual imagery, vibro-tactile input, auditory input, and experienced kinesthetically.
Creative arts therapy also provides the individual with an outlet for communication. When verbal language is limited, the arts can serve as a vehicle for self-expression providing ways for clients to engage socially. This therapeutic approach relies on the creative arts medium with a plan to ultimately enhance and increase communication and transfer learned skills to other environments
Definitions of Autism Spectrum Disorder:
From the DSM-5:
The essential features of autism spectrum disorder are the persistent impairment in reciprocal social communication and social interaction and -restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interest, or activities. These symptoms are present from early childhood and limit or impair everyday functioning.
From the American Psychological Association’s Glossary of Psychological Terms:
Autism is the most severe developmental disability. Appearing within the first three years of life, autism involves impairments in social interaction — such as being aware of other people’s feelings — and verbal and nonverbal communication.
From the National Institute of Mental Health:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, ‘a spectrum,’ of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability.
American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Autism Spectrum Disorder (50-53). Arlington, VA, American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (n.d.). In American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/autism/index.aspx
Autism Spectrum Disorder (2016, March). In National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml
Disclaimer: Due to the nature of this post, this information is meant to be informative and not a diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder. If you believe you know someone who may have autism spectrum disorder, please seek out a doctor or professional for a proper diagnosis.