Art Therapy And Autism: Listening To Voices And Critiquing Art Therapy Through Materials And Processes

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Samantha Kirk (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Albert Stabler

Abstract: Autistic people are not being asked about their experiences, perceptions, thoughts, or opinions. There is a discrepancy between what researchers of art therapy are accounting for, and what autistic individuals express through experience. While art has meaningful benefits for all learners, especially autistic people, individuals receiving art therapy oftentimes do not authentically benefit from art therapy in the ways that researchers describe. Using collections of writings and art by autistic individuals, their personal accounts and experiences are placed in conversation with current research on art therapy with autistic individuals. Emphasizing material usage serves the purpose of grounding art therapy in the artmaking process. Because of the current dominance of the medical model and pathology paradigm, art therapists are attempting to treat symptoms of ASD, commonly through the use of Applied Behavior Analysis therapy, which has caused trauma to countless individuals on the autism spectrum. Shifting towards the neurodiversity paradigm would recognize and respect diverse minds and ways of being as valuable. Proposed is a call for a paradigm shift from the pathology paradigm towards the neurodiversity paradigm. Further research on the subject of art therapy and autistic individuals must prioritize the voices, opinions, and experiences of people with ASD.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Kirk, S. (2020). Art Therapy And Autism: Listening To Voices And Critiquing Art Therapy Through Materials And Processes. Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2020
autism, art therapy, pathology paradigm, medical model, Applied Behavior Analysis, neurodiversity paradigm, critical disability studies

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