AARC Tip of the Month - February 2017
Art for Students on the Autism Spectrum
Many different types of art activities can be integrated into classroom curricula and activities. Some benefits of including art in the classroom are:
  • Art can be a way of solving problems visually or exploring a topic in depth. For example, drawing a map or sculpting a model can help a student understand a subject.
  • Most art activities involve multiple skills (visual, fine motor, spatial awareness, etc.). Art can engage the imagination and the sensory system, while helping to develop those skills.
  • Drawing and other art activities can be comfortable social activities for some students on the spectrum.
  • Some students on the spectrum use icons, social stories, or comic strips for learning communication, social skills, and coping skills. Encouraging a student to draw comic strips or pictures as a form of communication may be an appropriate activity.
  • It may open the student up to career opportunities. Dani Bowman is a young artist and animator who is on the autism spectrum. She has illustrated books, created short films, taught workshops, and has presented at many public speaking events, including the AARC Speaker Series. Not every student will find a career in the arts, but every student can benefit from exploring them. Learn more about Dani at http://danibowman.com/ and http://www.powerlight-studios.com/ and  https://www.youtube.com/user/PLstudios
Here is a fun project for learning maps and landforms:
  1. Pick up a drop cloth canvas from the paint department of a hardware store, and cut it up into squares or rectangles.
  2. Have each student splash coffee, tea, or paint onto the canvas. Let it dry overnight.
  3. This creates a map where the stains are continents, and the unstained areas are oceans.
  4. Students can draw in mountains, islands, rivers, and other natural features. Depending on the lesson, roads, city names and other features can also be added. Have fun naming all the elements!
  5. Use math and measuring skills to create a scale and find distances from one place to another, or use historical or literary place names to create a map that tells a story.
  6. Use your imagination to expand this activity any way that works for you.
Epp, Kathleen Marie. 2008. "Outcome-Based Evaluation of a Social Skills Program Using Art Therapy and Group Therapy for Children on the Autism Spectrum." Children & Schools 30, no. 1: 27-36. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 15, 2016).

Autism Insights: AARC Speaker Series
Featuring Dani Bowman
Fairbanks, Valdez, Palmer, & Sitka
March 12th, 14th, 16th, & 18th

Dani is a nationally recognized self-advocate and public speaker who shared the stage with Temple Grandin at "Temple Grandin and Friends" in 2015, which recognized achievements in employment. Her message is meaningful for self-advocates, family members, caretakers, educators, service providers, and business owners seeking to hire individuals with disabilities.
Books of the Month:
The books of the month are available in the SESA Library. Search for books on the  SESA website, or contact our Librarian, Anne Freitag, at  afreitag@sesa.org  or  907-334-1301 

Electronic books may be accessed from anywhere in the state. If you've used our ebooks before,  this link will take you to the login page.  If you haven't, please contact Anne so she can set up a username and password for you.  Click here for more information about ebooks.

A full bibliography of the Library's art resources for all students with special needs can be found at http://sesa.org/content/library/Arts

You can also look for additional articles in a variety of databases by using SLED, which is available for free for all Alaskans:  http://lam.alaska.gov/sled
Rajalika Speak: Inspired by the real-life story of a royally-bred Arabian stallion gone bad who found redemption when he learned to talk
By: Elizabeth Kaye McCall
Illustrated by: Dani Bowman
E.K. McCall, Ã2014
ISBN:   9781500838881

"From the author of The Tao of Horses comes the talking horse of a new generation in a book for children of all ages. Told from a horses perspective, this book shows how love, trust, commitment, dealing with life's uncertainties, and choice, can unlock the power of expressing oneself in extraordinary ways."--p. 4 of cover.
Really Really Like Me
By:  Gretchen Leary
Illustrated by: Dani Bowman
G. Leary, c2013
ISBN:  9781304175984

"This is an interactive children's book that is meant to help promote acceptance among young children with and without disabilities."-  Amazon.com
Bringing Out the Giftedness in Your Child: Nurturing every child's unique strengths, talents, and potential
By:  Rita Dunn, Kenneth Dunn, Donald Treffinger
John Wiley & Sons, c1992.
ISBN:  0-471-52803-X

Description: Emphasizing a child's potential rather than any static or quantified definition of ``gifted', it asks the question: ``How is your child talented'? This should challenge parents to examine their child and what they really know about his or her strengths, talents, needs and sustained interests, so that they can respond in appropriate and stimulating ways. Helps parents find the child's strengths and potential, shows how to use the home environment for nurturing and stimulation, how to choose and cooperate with teachers, how to select activities or games, how the parents' own behavior influences a child toward fulfilling its potential and how to determine a child's unique learning style.
Climbing Art Obstacles in Autism: Teaching visual-motor skills through visually structured art activities
By: Karen Loden Talmage; Vickie Dobrofsky
Tasks Galore Pub. Co., 2007.
ISBN:  9781934226070

This book includes: art activities tied to early learning themes, projects that incorporate visual-motor skills, many colorful photos that depict logical sequences of steps, checklists to assist students in collecting needed materials, and detachable pages for easy use in special needs or inclusion classrooms.
Comic Strip Conversations: Colorful, illustrated interactions with students with autism and related disorders disabilities
By:  Carol Gray
Future Horizons, 1994, c1993.

Description: "... combines stick-figures with "conversation symbols" to illustrate what people say and think during conversations. Showing what people are thinking reinforces that others have independent thoughts - a concept spectrum children don't intuitively understand. Children can also recognize that, although people say one thing, they may think something quite different - another concept foreign to "concrete-thinking" children. Children can draw their own "comic strips" to show what they are thinking and feeling about events or people. Different colors can represent different states of mind. These deceptively simple comic strips can reveal as well as convey quite a lot of substantive information. The author delves into topics such as: What is a Comic Strip Conversation? ; The Comic Strip Symbols Dictionary ; Drawing "small talk" ; Drawing about a given situation ; Drawing about an upcoming situation ; Feelings and COLOR."
Drawing Autism
By: Jill Mullin
Foreword by: Temple Grandin
Akashic Books, 2014
ISBN:  9781617751981

"Using artwork created by individuals diagnosed with ASD, Drawing Autism celebrates their artistry and self-expression while also serving as an accessible point of entry into understanding how ASD manifests in individuals. Autism is known as a 'spectrum disorder' because no two diagnoses are exactly the same; however, there are characteristic traits of ASD. Through their art, the contributors exhibit unique perspectives on how they see the world and their places in it. The book's seven chapters ... speak directly to the core characteristics of ASD" - Provided by publisher.
Tasks galore
Tasks Galore
By:  Laurie Eckenrode, Pat Fennell, and Kathy Hearsey
Tasks Galore, c2003.

Description: Has pages of tasks that address skills in the categories of fine motor skills (pre-writing, writing, computer skills), readiness (matching and sorting skills), language arts (book, print and phonemic awareness, decoding and word recognition, comprehension and vocabulary), math (number sense, numeration, numerical operations, spatial sense, measurement, patterns, relationships, and functions), reasoning (concepts as related to the students environment: exploring materials, making predictions, generating attributes and using common objects), play (art, music, manipulatives, games and independent play).
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