Art can be as unique as the child

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I have a guest post over on {A Mom's View of ADHD} about art for children who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The article could be for parents of any kids, though, as it includes all of our very favorite art activities! So take a look and let me know what you think. And if you have a child who is diagnosed with ADHD, I would especially love feedback from you!

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  1. says

    I really enjoyed reading this post Jean. I made a comment about my sweet nephew and his need for free expressive play-based learning. You are right though, art, and play in general doesn’t need to be micro-managed. It should be fun and free and expressive. It should be a reflection of the individual child, not a trophy for our fridges.

  2. says

    Thank you so much for the post, Jean! My son is only three and half, but the ADHD label is already being thrown around by his doctors. (We’re waiting another year or so before we undergo “formal” testing). Children’s art has become such a big passion of mine! I host an art playgroup and have dreams of opening an art studio for kids in our area one day. HOWEVER, my son rarely has the attention span for any of our art projects (even the most open ended), which can be frustrating.
    I’m always on the lookout for way to get him involved in art in a way that best suits his personality. :) Your suggestions are right on! My son definitely prefers the more “active” art and anything super sensory like shaving cream. Great post!

  3. says

    Thanks, Jean. Great topic! You know, many kids diagnosed with ADHD are the very same kids who are blessed with descriptors such as “creative, highly imaginative, hands-on learner, thinks outside the box, dreamer, inventive” (I have one such kid, and worked with many more in my art therapy practice). Many of us wonder, how can my kid have ADHD, when he can focus for hours on his legos or his sculpting, or his sketching, or working on the comic book adventure in his head? Then we learn that kids with ADHD can be highly focused when engaged in activities they find intrinsically motivating…or sensorily stimulating in a way their body needs (but not so much when they have to sit still to listen to a teacher or solve a worksheet full of long division problems)…and your suggested activities/approach tap beautifully into this potential. On the other side of the coin, some kids with ADHD can be so impulsive that some may find some of these activities to be over-stimulating, so parents need to know their child (and their limits of tolerance as parents for what might ensue when introducing an art activity), and proceed accordingly (or consider themselves forewarned)! :) It can be helpful for parents to be very mindful about limiting the amount of stimulation in the room…perhaps having a choice of just one or two paint colors, for example, and all unneccessary supplies out of reach and view. If mom is feeling harried, it might not be the time to introduce expansive, messy materials, because you will want to go into the activity feeling positive about what happens, and not freaking out if your kid goes wilder with it than you ever dreamed possible!!!
    Oh, and one more plug on the virtues of art for folks with ADHD…over time, it can really help reinforce skills like delaying gratification, managing impulses, and building frustration tolerance (think about completing a multi-step, long-term process like sculpting with clay, from planning to building to firing to glazing to firing again). This even applies to simpler, shorter term processes, like assembling with glue, or painting.
    Again, thank you, Jean, for introducing this important topic.

  4. martha says

    I Used to work with children with ADHD and severe autism, and I found out that the use of art as a way of communicating is excellent, it opens a window. It is
    an amazing tool. Thanks Jean for the message.

  5. says

    And in case I haven’t said enough already, I’d also like to sing the virtues of working 3-D with kids with ADHD. Especially for some (often boys) who are reluctant to engage in art involving mark-making on paper (whether drawing or painting), sculpting with clay, building with wood and glue (and real tools when they are old enough and supervised of course), or cardboard and tape, or making things out of large boxes, etc. can be highly gratifying. You may also find they enjoy the painting process more when they can paint their 3-D structures.

  6. says

    Wow, I wish I would have read this article before our whole art debaucle (you can check it out here –> At the end of it I came to the same conclusions as you, and even at the beginning I intellectually knew it, but sometimes it is so hard to forget about end products when the end products are so adorable. I could have used this article as a reminder! One of our very best art experiences ever was painting a big white sheet outside in the driveway with our whole bodies. I had no expectations for end product (we just washed it when we were done to use again another day) and I was well prepared for the mess that ensued (we hosed off before entering the house). I need to keep that in mind! That’s the key – no expectations, and having a plan to deal with the mess.
    Great post!