Welcome back to our Creative Kids feature! Every week I share a new post from a guest blogger relating to how we can get creative, arty or messy with our little ones. This week I’m really pleased to be sharing this post by mum and psychotherapist Olivia Djouadi.
Creativity with children helps with their development but what does one do when their child has special needs? Actually, it’s similar to all kids providing a little extra time is taken. I know this as I have a son with cerebral palsy and also worked at a special needs nursery for years where there was lots of activity for the children who attended. I also love doing art even though my talent doesn’t match in any way accomplished artists. I love art as it’s fun and was missing in my own childhood so I knew it was needed for my kids.
So, to prepare you need to think about the child you have and if there’s anything they like or don’t like. Glitter and paint were at our art table a lot but we didn’t do anything that needed lots of careful hand movements like doing anything with cutting knives or superglue. I also needed to think about the space before my children sat to do their art. Due to my sons cerebral palsy he had no mobility and one arm that didn’t work well, the other arm and hand worked great. I needed to make sure the area stayed clean as things would get knocked over and spilled frequently. Under his chair I had a bin liner taped to the floor (this was only when doing art so it was thrown away after in the clean-up). I had also bought an inexpensive shower curtain which I used like a tablecloth so spills were easily cleaned up. Ones preparation also ends up being creative when working with kids whose arms and hands can knock water cups and paint over.
The next step for painting or pictures that appeared after painting with water was a larger size ice cube tray to blue tack to the table so it might get knocked less often. Then the paint or water could go in each of the spaces. The art aprons seem to not work well with my two as one needed to lean on his arm a lot so he would get paint on clothing. I got them rain ponchos (which cost a few pounds) as you only need a covering to keep the kids somewhat clean. I also got scrapbooks so each child had a place to put their art or creation. Now we were ready to start our creative fun; it seems a lot and will do trying to collect supplies but once bought they don’t need replacing too often.
You can get creative with the paint as well by adding glitter or sand. Once dry the glitter will shine through providing the paint isn’t too thick. One of the children I worked with at the nursery had autism and glitter seem to settle him so glitter was added to much of the art. The sand (and you only need ½ spoon) will give the picture a different texture which can help kids who have sensory issues getting use to differences. Some special needs kids get stressed touching paint so you can use mini paint rollers brushes or even dip leaves or twigs to make paint shapes.
So, realize there maybe extra preparation initially, art and creativity will be messy so don’t worry too much if mess is made. You can also get the kids to help with tidy up time after as they get older. For my son that meant handing me things he could reach and for my daughter packing thing away for next time. Creativity is meant to be fun so enjoy yourself and time with the kids.
Olivia Djouadi is a UKCP psychotherapist that feels creativity is important to both her children and also her clients where she uses art. She has worked with nursery school kids with special needs and adults with chronic health conditions via creativity and talking. Find her at www.therapywitholivia.org.uk or on Twitter @OliviaDjouadi.
Have you done a creative project with your kids that you’d like to share? Do you have a brilliant messy play task? If you’d like to write a guest blog post around getting arty, crafty or messy with kids please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more about the series here.