Art Therapy
Education Materials
Donna Betts

Art Therapy & Autism

Information about the application of art therapy in working with individuals who have autism.

Many art therapists work with clients who have an autistic disorder. Art therapy is a beneficial form of treatment for working with individuals who have autism and related disabilities.


Autism is a neurobiological disorder that strikes children sometime during the first three years of life affecting cognition, social interaction, and communication skills. No specific cause for autism is known, but research suggests the disability might be genetic. The annual cost of treating and supporting individuals with autism spectrum disorders in the United States can be as high as $90 billion. In 10 years, the annual cost could be as high as $200 to $400 billion. Ninety percent of these costs are for adult services. As the incidence of autism continues to rise, the stress on the adult service system will greatly increase. The cost of autism, as well as the characteristics of the disorder, may be reduced by 2/3 with early diagnosis and appropriate interventions such as art therapy.

Autism Facts:

- By the late 1980s, the incidence rate for those diagnosed with autism was 1 to 2 per 10,000 in the United States. In the year 2000, the incidence rate was estimated at 2 to 6 per 1,000 according to the Centers for Disease Control.
- Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability, increasing at a rate of 10-17% annually.
- In Indiana alone, the number of school-aged children diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder increases annually by approximately 24% making it one of the fastest growing disabilities.
- Over 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
- Each day, approximately 50 families in the United States will find out that their child has autism.
- United State's rate of growth over the last decade:
Population: 13%
Non-Autism Related Disabilities: 16%
Autism Spectrum Disorders: 173%

Relevant links and resources:

Art 4 Autism

NIH National Institute of Child Health & Human Development

The Autism Society of America

Autism Today: Everything you need to know about autism.

Brain research and autism

Brain research: Scientists Say Everyone Can Read Minds, by Ker Than, Wed Apr 27, 2005: "Several labs are now testing the hypothesis that autistic individuals have a mirror neuron deficit and cannot simulate the mental states of others..."

Artist Donna Williams

Arte Autismo Brasil

Stephen Shore's website: about Autism and Asperger’s syndrome.

Very Special Arts

Adderall Provigil

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