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Autistic Children Hit Developmental Milestones in Camp Art Class

July 15, 2010

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As the kids start to pour into the classroom for summer art camp Doreen Ravenscroft and her group of volunteers makes sure everyone picks up where they left off last week. Today they are working with Clay.

Doreen is the Director of the Waco Cultural Arts Fest. For the last four years her organization provides the volunteers and supplies for an art class for children with Autism. What began as an Arts for All Day during the summer on TSTC campuses grew into a two-day a week, 8 week long class in the ARC of McLennan County, the organization that hosts a summer day Camp for special needs children. For some of the children this is their first art class. Jeani Collard is the respite Caretaker for Jermey, one of the campers.

Creating art provides new sensory experiences. While these new experiences may seem exciting for an average kid, for a person with Autism first encounters often are a milestone. Simply going into an unfamiliar room can spur a fit of hysterics in an autistic child. And when the art program for autistic children began, there were questions as to what the kids might do. Unpredictable, erratic behavior mixed with temper paint, glue, and clay--who knows what could happen?

Despite its critics. Being able to create with clay and paint allows the kids to open up and feel comfortable, to talk and have conversations, engage with other people.

Whether that experience is painting a horse or talking to someone new, new experiences and encounters are critical for the development of these children. With a little patience and a lot of paint, during the summer months two times a week, the tiny room on the fourth floor the United Methodist Church on Austin becomes an art machine--children painting and sculpting.

There's a photo gallery of the art class online at KWBU.org. For KWBU News I'm Jacqueline Deavenport.

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