Talk Focuses on Art Therapy to Help Autistic Children

An autistic child is afraid of letters, but loves drawing faces.

So Patrick Allred, a registered behavior technician who works with the Utah Autism Academy, used to help him learn. Drawing faces on each letter helped him get over his anxiety about letters, said Allred, “With these letters, he was able to learn the alphabet because they were nice to him, they weren’t scary.”

Art, and how it can help children with autism, was the topic of an art talk Tuesday evening at the Woodbury Art Museum, where three professionals who utilize art therapy talked about how children who have difficulties vocalizing needs can learn to use art to communicate.

Allred has involved students in projects where they will draw what they’re afraid of, or will listen to music and draw how the music made them feel. He shared with a small audience how a child learned to draw faces with different expressions and emotions, and would mimic each face as he drew it.

Jenny Elizabeth, an artist who has used art therapy to help children, spoke on how art can be used to help with trauma. She has witnessed that some art mediums are seen as safer than others, like watercolors, which can evoke more emotion than pencils.

“You can tell a lot about where a person is and what they need to work on if you look at the media they’re using and what they are drawing,” Elizabeth said.

George Cepull, a professional artist who volunteers as an art instructor at local elementary schools, is known to his students as “Mr. Cepull, the man with the robot leg.” When he enters classrooms, he dresses so the students can see his prosthetic leg.

“I am something different to them, and I think that helps them adapt to the real world,” Cepull said.

He teaches the children that everything is made up of shapes, and making a picture is like putting a jigsaw puzzle together. At the end of his lessons, he projects their drawings onto a screen.

“I think this is a way they can feel good about themselves and see what they can do,” Cepull said. “They can see their art on the wall.”



5-Year-Old Raises Awareness

Iris Grace and her cat Thula

Iris Grace is a five year old diagnosed with autism who picked up a paintbrush last year and has been making waves ever since. “It was her first painting I noticed a difference in her painting compared to how you … Continue reading

Autistic child found to have amazing art ability

Autistic child found to have amazing art ability

Autistic child found to have amazing art ability

An 8th grade student at Gardner Academy in Lansing has been discovered through his artwork. But what makes this artwork exceptionally special is that this student has been diagnosed with autism. Alex Torres, 14, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder when he was 2½ years old. His disordered limits his ability to verbally communicate with others.

After being diagnosed Alex’s mom started to buy him Play-Doh because it offers a sensory experience, which is often recommended for kids on the autism spectrum. After noticing that the Play-Doh animals would dry out and become brittle, she then switched to buying modeling compound. Alex has a dozens of colorful, tiny figures covering the surface of a table in Alex’s basement work area. Among these tiny figures is a cat eating nachos, a plate of spaghetti, a pair of dogs relaxing at a picnic complete with a high-stacked hamburger, hot dog, a Coke and tiny Oreo cookies.

Alex is among a worldwide group of young artist whose work was on display during November in Washington D.C. as part of the VSA International Art Program for Children with Disabilities. Alex was honored for his family portrait, including pets at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington, D.C. He has been attending classes off and on at REACH Studio Art Center on South Washington Avenue. His teacher at REACH, Mila Theroux, states “He’s got something that is coming from inside of him that’s amazing.”

Alex’s artwork includes drawings in pencil, marker and crayon, paintings and hundreds of tiny sculptures. Alex also has taken classes in using a potter’s wheel and making sculptures from clay that can be fired. His parents, Angelina Torres and Carlos Ortiz, dream that his art will eventually help him become self-supporting.

For more information on Arts and Autism please follow the link here:

KOTRA Comes to Shema Kolainu

KOTRA, Korean Trade & Investment Promotion Agency, is a South Korean government based organization, dedicated to promoting trade and direct investment in various Korean industries. Their representatives reached out to introduce Goodis, a Korean company that promotes collaborations with special needs art students, to develop commercial designs from their original works of art.

This morning, the representatives joined our students at Shema Kolainu for what turned out to be a wonderful and meaningful experience. The students took part in an art session, created beautiful projects with markers and pastels. Both parties enjoyed watching our children learn about different shapes and colors. Each student received a gift bag filled with art materials to continue their art education at home.

Art has been proven to be an effective intervention for children with autism because they are visually centered in their learning. This means they understand what they see better than what they hear. Art can also enhance their communication skills, improve cognitive and motor skills, and helps improve their sensory integration.

The staff was extremely happy to take part in such an experience, as everyone at Shema Kolainu – Hear Our Voices is dedicated to promoting art education.

An Art Therapy Success Story

At age 2, Jake Schindler of Colfax,Wisconsin, was diagnosed with autism. Unable to speak, Jake has recently learned he can express himself through painting. It started when his grandfather saw a show on television about two men who were also on the spectrum that were able to create beautiful works of art. Jake’s mother, Christina Schindler, thought it would be a good idea to have Jake try this too.

One of Jake’s care workers, Teri Anderson, helps Jake set up for his painting sessions, “I set everything in front of him and I ask him what color he wants to use and he picks it up and sometimes he wants it in his hands and sometimes he wants me to drop it on his canvas.”[i] Both Teri and Christina notice that Jake enjoys painting with bright colors, particularly purple and pink, and reflects his good mood.

Christina can tell that Jake enjoys painting, “You can see he’s really enjoying it too. You’ll look at the corner of his eyes and grin and see all those facial expressions that at times we don’t see.”

Jake’s older brother is also autistic, but is verbal and can handle daily tasks more independently.

Christina is thrilled that her son has found an outlet to express himself, since he cannot do so with words. His paintings have been donated to the Red Cedar Medical Hospital where he was born, and has been transformed into mugs for sale at the Mane Street Salon and other areas in his community. His work has even been transformed into an interactive children’s book entitled “What Do You See?”

[i] “WEAU” Autistic artist paints a thousand words. 28 Oct 2013. Web. <>

The Next Monet: A 3-Year-Old Girl with Autism?

Non-verbal and diagnosed with autism, 3-year-old Iris Grace Halmshaw of Market Horborough, England, has learned to express her emotions through painting. Iris Grace exhibits social dissociation, struggling to interact with others and making poor eye contact. But when painting, she is fully concentrated and focused. Her parents had tried other therapies to help her find something she is passionate about, but to no avail. Social groups also made Iris Grace anxious, and she would tend to have tantrums and meltdowns. Her mother, Arabella Carter-Johnson, said they even turned their home in a play house for their daughter,

“We put a paddling pool in my home office and filled it with plastic balls and installed a trampoline in the sitting room. Play, fun and laughter were the goal, and I wanted to teach Iris to interact with me, instead of being immersed entirely in her own world.”[i]

Eventually, the 3-year-old started painting. Her mother, comments,

“Her autism has created a style of painting which I have never seen in a child of her age. She has an understanding of colors and how they interact with each other. She beams with excitement and joy when I get out the paints, it lifts her mood every time.”



Iris Grace’s painting is therapeutic for her, and copies of her work are being sold for hundreds of dollars. The original paintings are going on display in November for auction, and the profits will go to Iris Grace’s therapy.

Art therapy is an effective technique used for children with autism spectrum disorders. Here at Shema Kolainu- Hear Our Voices, we have individual and group art therapy classes. The students have the opportunity to express their emotions through their work, while working on their fine motor skills as well.

[i] “Mail Online” The miracle of Little Miss Masterpiece: Astonishing talent of autistic Iris, three, whose paintings have stunned the world. 30 Jun 2013. Web. <>

[ii] “Huffington Post” Iris Halmshaw, 3-year-old with autism, can’t talk; But her beautiful painting sell for hundreds.03 Jul 2013. Web. <>

Art Therapy for Children With Autism

Art has always been an effective form of self-expression, whether in a visual, performance, or interactive setting.  It gives us the opportunity to create something in the world that is a true representation of ourselves.  It allows us to communicate through a completely different channel other than using words.  This is especially true in individuals with autism. Continue reading

Arts Can Work for People with Autism

“Arts Work” for Autistic Services is a program for people with Autism, allowing them to express themselves through visual and performing arts. “The work is a peek into the minds of these creative people and a glimpse into the exceptional abilities they possess.” says Dana Ranke, a teaching artist at Autistic Services. This program is one aspect of Autistic Services’ mission that endeavors to close the gap between people with Autism and typical populations.

According to the American Art Therapy Association, “art therapy is a mental health profession that uses the creative process of art making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages. It is based on the belief that the creative process involved in artistic self-expression helps people to resolve conflicts and problems, develop interpersonal skills, manage behavior, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and self-awareness, and achieve insight.” Continue reading