The Arts Open a World of Possibilities to Kids with Learning Disabilities

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Children with learning disabilities face unique challenges. However thanks to the arts, they can gain freedom, personal expression and independence. Here is how engaging special needs kids with the arts can benefit them and improve their quality of life

Why the arts? Participating in a creative outlet can provide tremendous opportunities for children with learning disabilities. As Social Work Today explains, the arts provide therapeutic benefits as well as opportunities for growth and learning. Children can develop self-awareness and learn to better express themselves through activities such as dancing, drawing, painting, sculpting, creative writing, music, photography and drama.

In addition to the cathartic benefits, children can use these avenues for dealing with and expressing feelings or ideas they aren’t able to put into words. It’s an opportunity to engage their bodies and minds in fresh ways, developing imaginations and other resources to help them feel better and live more independently now and in the future. For special needs kids, this can mean opening a world of possibilities and freedom, which is otherwise untapped.

Dancing. One of the beautiful things about creative outlets is the flexibility they offer. Dance routines can be modified to suit an individual dancer’s abilities, and as Today points out, children with various disabilities can successfully participate in dance. Whether living with blindness, autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, epilepsy, dwarfism, amputations or any other sort of disability, opportunities abound in the world of dance. Children can benefit from dance in a multitude of ways, learning self-expression, teamwork, social skills, cooperation, they can improve their ability to follow instructions and they can gain self-esteem.

They can also enhance physical abilities such as motor skills, coordination, flexibility and strength. Engage your child with dance through a local dance troupe or community program to see her learn and grow!

Music. Participating in music can be a boon to children with disabilities. Whether playing an instrument or singing, music provides a wonderful vehicle for self-expression. Kids who participate in a musical outlet can improve communication skills, counting and math skills, coordination, timing and cooperation. Children also grow in the ability to follow instruction and to focus. As some experts suggest there is a plethora of options for engaging a child with music.

Traditional musical instruments such as the flute, drum or piano are beneficial selections, as well as singing. Not only can kids learn to use their voices as an instrument, but also they can even use their own bodies for learning rhythm and playing sounds, which can be a perfect choice for kids whose dexterity is limited. Choose the right instrument to suit your child’s interests and abilities. Some professionals recommend considering your child’s personality type as well as capabilities and physical characteristics.

For instance, some instruments particularly lend themselves to being center stage, such as the tenor saxophone player in a jazz band. Woodwind instruments are beneficial to children with special needs as they can feel the notes’ vibrations through their teeth and learn fine motor skills. Budding musicians with full lips tend to be better tuba players, and kids with long fingers and good dexterity in their hands might be well-suited to playing piano. Children can get started through online music lessons or through local community bands or private tutors.

Studio arts. Painting, drawing, sculpting and other studio arts provide an abundance of opportunities for children with disabilities. Kids can not only enjoy expressing themselves in new ways and developing important skills such as communication, motor skills and understanding colors and shapes, but also NPR points out children can hatch careers from tapping into their special talents.

There are online art courses to get your youngster started. There are also classes in community centers or through local learning programs, as well as some craft stores and through private tutors. You also can find outside-the-box options for such things as fiber arts; llama, alpaca and sheep farms occasionally offer clinics for sculpting and weaving with wool.

Kids with special needs can live fuller lives thanks to the arts. Being creative offers huge benefits to children of all abilities. Look for ways to get your child started and watch her grow!

Lillian Brooks

lillian@learningdisabilities.info

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