Art Therapy and Speech Therapy

Art Therapy and Speech Therapy

Art Therapy as Speech Therapy

Art Therapy as Speech Therapy. Image source:

Sometimes with younger kids, speech therapy doesn’t need to look like a traditional speech therapy classroom regimen. Instead, speech therapy can take on a more creative approach using Art. Yes — Art can be a useful tool to enhance a child’s speech and language development. Whether or not you have a child who needs help with verbal expression or  auditory comprehension, there are excellent art-based activities that your child can do to engage all of his senses. And the best part — art therapy can be done at home! I know for some, even the phrase “art project” evokes a fear of mess and chaos! But, for a child in speech therapy, an art experience may be just what he needs to explore his creative side and improve his verbal and comprehension skills at the same time.

Art Therapy as Speech Therapy?

What is Art Therapy? The American Art Therapy Association (AATA) defines Art Therapy as:

“Employing the creative process of art-making to improve and enhance the physical, mental and emotional well-being of individuals of all ages with the aim of resolving conflicts and problems, developing interpersonal skills, managing behavior, reducing stress and increasing self-esteem and awareness.”

Sounds somewhat similar to parts of speech therapy, don’t you think?

Studies have shown that art therapy can help make significant improvements in individuals with cerebral palsy. A study done by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that “Art therapy with elements of logopedic therapy improves the ability of children with cerebral palsy to engage in purposeful behavior, including speech and language functions, especially intelligibility.” (Logopedics is the study and treatment of speech disorders.)

Art therapy can help support and reinforce speech therapy goals. Art therapy and speech therapy both share similar components related to language and expression, such as expression with tone of voice, and body orientation. Art therapy is a form of communication development that allows individuals to express themselves through the use of visual mediums. Individuals are encouraged to talk about their artwork and asked to share with other what they are working on. This allows an opportunity for a child to gain self-confidence and public speaking experience. Also, as your child perfects his masterpiece, try asking him to describe what he is making by sequencing the steps to completion. By doing so, he is demonstrating that he can follow directions and take pride in his work.

Art Therapy Ideas

What are some art therapy and speech therapy ideas?  We’ve got a few for you to try.  Start by providing a wide variety of artistic mediums for your children to work with. Art comes in all forms, and different children may prefer working with different materials. Offer paints, paint brushes,pencils, clay, construction paper, chalk, sand, stickers. Also, consider items such as material, fabric, puppets, dress-up costumes, mask-making items or music for dance. All these make up a perfect backdrop for art to be used as speech therapy.

shutterstock_81575698-[Converted]Ask your child to create a one-of-a-kind picture. It could be anything…rainbow, animal, self-portrait! You’ll need to provide the materials and then let your kids begin to create! In order for this experience to engage his verbal abilities, ask your child to describe in detail what he is creating! Or, ask her to label all of the art materials that are necessary to create her masterpiece. After her project is complete, have her share her picture with your family.  You can do the same by asking your child to design the wackiest costume she can think of.  And, as listed before, ask her to label each item she is using and to describe in detail the look she is trying to create! She can enhance her social skills, self-confidence, and ability to follow direction with one simple art project.

The more engaged she becomes with her art projects, the more self-confidence she will gain, which translates into easier and more enjoyable opportunities to work on speech therapy.

Do you have any special art projects that you like to incorporate into your therapy?

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