Local Non-Profits Offer Free Art Therapy Classes to Beaufort County Children Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Local children who have been affected by autism spectrum disorder will have the opportunity to take free art therapy classes in January, thanks to The Society of Bluffton Artists’ (SoBA) donation of the Center for Creative Arts building next door to the gallery in Old Town Bluffton and the services from the Lowcountry Autism Foundation (LAF).
“Community outreach is an important part of SoBA’s mission in Bluffton,” said Barbara Pecce, SoBA’s educational coordinator. “It’s a pleasure to work with LAF to help improve the lives of children in Beaufort County with art.”
The art therapy classes for children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder are based on social-skills classes for families and their children, facilitated by Alyssa Millard, a nationally registered and board certified art therapist with LAF. Art therapy-based support groups will be available for neurotypical siblings as well. The free art therapy program is made possible by the donation of SoBA’s art facility and LAF’s continued support in the Lowcountry community.
“I believe that the visual language of art has the ability to dialog with the viewer in a much more profound way than through the written or spoken word along,” Millard said. “A visual image can sometimes speak volumes much more clearly than the spoken word, directly accessing one’s psyche and instinctual understanding of something. In other words, art can provide the avenue of expression for emotions or ideas that are too ‘big’ for words.”
Art therapy uses the creative process of art making, blended with models of counseling, to improve and to enhance physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. For children with autism spectrum disorder, art therapy is particularly helpful in modeling appropriate social interactions, teaching social skills, developing strategies for managing stress and anxiety, working on emotional regulations, building distress tolerance, sensory integration and more.
The art therapy services are free for members of LAF. For more information on how join LAF and to register for classes, visit www.lafinc.org or contact Sophia Townes, LAF program coordinator for Beaufort and Jasper counties, at [email protected] or 843-384-9702.