Art, Music & Recreational Therapy: Incorporating Creative Approaches for Students with Autism

Presented by: Courtney Carnes, MS, ATR-BC, Art Therapist; Julie Hopkins, MT-BC, Music Therapist; and Erin Witschey, CTRS, Recreational Therapist
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Art therapy is a mental health profession in which clients, facilitated by the art therapist, use art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork to explore their feelings, reconcile emotional conflicts, foster self-awareness, manage behavior and addictions, develop social skills, improve reality orientation, reduce anxiety, and increase self-esteem (American Art Therapy Association). Music therapy is the clinical use of music interventions to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of individuals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program (American Music Therapy Association). Recreational therapy, also known as therapeutic recreation, is a systematic process that utilizes recreation and other activity-based interventions to address the assessed needs of individuals with illnesses and/or disabling conditions, as a means to psychological and physical health, recovery and well-being (American Therapeutic Recreation Association).

Art, music, and recreational therapy are often used independently to treat individuals on the autism spectrum. Multi-disciplinary sessions, which incorporate numerous visual supports including video models and organizational charts, appeal to the students’ creativity, are relevant to their everyday lives, and help them acquire important skills in a refreshing manner. Learn more about:

  • The definitions of art, music & recreational therapy
  • How students with autism benefit from these therapies
  • Case studies demonstrating interventions that can be used with individuals with autism