Autistic Youth: Using Art Therapy to Increase Social Skills

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Hale, Tandy
Master of Arts in Art Therapy
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disease diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, characterized by delays in global functioning usually in social, cognitive, and emotional responses. In this research, the question asked whether two young boys with ASD could gain social skills when introduced to art therapy in a small group setting. A qualitative and phenomenological method was used to examine the use of social context within an interactive art therapy intervention. The participants were African American male siblings aged 5-8 who were diagnosed with ASD. Art processes as well as checklists completed by the children, their guardian, and the researcher were incorporated in the method. An outside rater and the researcher, acted as participant observer, witnessed the actions and behaviors of the participants and recorded the data. Thematic analysis was used to process the data. Findings suggested that siblings doing artwork in a therapeutic setting may have affected symptomology in a positive manner and decreased behavior patterns, but because there were only two sessions the conclusion was not definitive.