Guest Post by Danelle Griner
Danelle is the founder of ArtShop. She specializes in therapeutic art instruction for individuals with disabilities. Go to http://artshoptherapy.com/ to find easy to teach adapted art projects and ideas for children with special needs.
Many times it can be challenging to find activities for special needs children and their siblings to enjoy together. Siblings of children with special needs have their own needs and pressures they are dealing with. Maintaining a positive bond between siblings can be challenging. Creating art together is an interesting way to nurture these relationships. Here are a few suggestions for using the process of creating art to increase positive interactions between siblings.
Try these approaches with your family:
Siblings: Separate Art Projects Created Together
You are the best judge of your children’s relationships. A good place to start to get an idea of what art can be for your special needs child and their siblings is to start with having your kids create art together. A nice way to begin is to have each child work on their own art project but sit together while doing it. Each child can identify an individual art project they would like to work on. Each child has their own space and expression but spend time “together”. If there are frustrations and stress between the sibling relationship this is a nice, no pressure way to nurture healthy healing. This also is an opportunity to develop goals or skills you may want your kids to work on. It may be as simple as sitting next to each other and being kind to each other or learning to share materials and space. This is a good place to tackle any social skills you may be working on and it can be done on an informal level.
Siblings: Collaborative Art Project
Choose an art project that your children can complete together. Have each child add to the project to create one finished project. An abstract collage or design is great for this since there is no “right or wrong” . It is not about one person making something better than the other person. Each person’s contribution just looks “different” not “better”. Each sibling just adds their thing. This method can be great for fostering bonds and teamwork. Since this can also become a place of increased competitiveness determine if your kids can handle this. This might be a goal for them to work toward. An idea where there is no “right or wrong” is to create a collaborative design/texture collage using found material, like cardboard, scrapbooking paper leftovers, tissue paper, etc…. Tear, cut, wrinkle into interesting pieces and glue and layer designs. Experiment with painting over materials and different effects of thinner and thicker paint over the design. Each sibling contributes and creates on the big design as a whole.
Family Art Projects
Why not create art as a family? Okay, so you may not consider yourself artistically inclined. Remember the objective is to have fun and not make this a stressful situation. You do not have to create the next masterpiece to be hung in the Metropolitan Museum. A family art project that the whole family creates is another way to strengthen relationships that you may not have thought about. Find an art project that the whole family can work on. Divide it into parts for each person. One idea to try is a family portrait. Everyone creates their own self portrait. (Draw, paint, collage with cut shapes etc…) Find a way to combine the self portraits to create one big family portrait. Portraits do not have to be literal faces they could also be colors, lines(that might represent each person). Remember the point is to have fun not create more stress for yourself and your kids.