Autistic art

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Autistic art representing the natural diversity of human minds.

Autistic art is artwork created by autistic artists that captures or conveys a variety of autistic experiences. According to a 2021 article in Cognitive Processing, autistic artists with improved linguistic and communication skills often show a greater degree of originality and attention to detail than their neurotypical counterparts, with a positive correlation between artistic talent and high linguistic functioning.[1][2] Autistic art is often considered outsider art.[3] Art by autistic artists has long been shown in separate venues from artists without disabilities.[3] The works of some autistic artists have featured in art publications and documentaries and been exhibited in mainstream galleries. Although autistic artists seldom received formal art education in the past, recent inclusivity initiatives have made it easier for autistic artists to get a formal college education.[4] The Aspergers/Autism Network's AANE Artist Collaborative is an example of an art organization for autistic adults.[5]

Many therapeutic, social, and interventional organizations today use art therapy to socialize and promote mental and emotional growth in autistic children.[6][7][8]


Many autistic art programs and projects founded by nonprofit organizations, autistic artists, or other institutions to help autistic people to express themselves and promote autistic art.[9]

Sensory hypersensitivity may make an autistic person much more perceptive than a neurotypical (non-autistic) person. The extreme attention to detail common in autistic people may manifest as talent in mathematics, art or other fields.[10] Autistic persons who have talent in art are often outsiders in the art community. Unlike with common art, there is seldom any tradition or academic criteria in their creations. Each artist has their own personal style, that presents their conception of the autistic life experience.[11]

Art therapy[edit]

Art therapy is used as a therapeutic method primarily in autistic children, by itself or alongside methods such as applied behavior analysis. Proponents state it helps autistic children develop mental, social, and emotional maturity and teaches life skills. Advocates point out that art therapy can increase autistic tolerance to sensory stimuli and redirect self-stimulatory behavior "stims" into an activity less likely to distract other students. Artistic expression is a good alternative for nonverbal autistic children and those uncomfortable with verbal communication.[6] Autistic people often have visual memory, so art therapy is a natural fit for autistic children who think in pictures instead of words.[12]

Benefits of Art Therapy in Autistic Children[edit]

Art is a medium used in many different ways to benefit patients dealing with health issues to mental setbacks. Using creative thinking within art and being able to express yourself in any way through your art is a vital experience for many individuals, especially children who may have a hard time expressing themselves. Children with autism greatly benefit from using art as a form of therapy, and art therapy is a wonderful tool that touches on many areas that are beneficial to these children.

Some of the main benefits of using art as a therapeutic tool is the sensory stimulation from using paint or clay etc. it can be as sensory as they need.  These art classes also allow the participants to become more outgoing and learn how to interact with their peers and other people, while in a safe place.

The self-esteem boost kids get from using art as a medium is also important to note as many kids feel accomplished in finishing their pieces and the experience is very positive for them.

By allowing these children to have this creative outlet to express their feelings through art as well as teaching them correct motor skills, art therapy has so many wonderful benefits. [13]


Stephen Wiltshire working in 2016


Drawing Autism[edit]

Drawing Autism is a book collection of images and artwork created by people who are diagnosed with autism. This collection features creations of more than 50 autistic artists around the world and illustrates the potential for art of autistic persons as well as an insight into some of the characteristics of autism. The founder of the project is Jill Mullin, who is a board-certified behavior analyst. During her 15 years of experience working with autistic people, Mullin has found that many of them are talented in mathematics, science and art.[24]

The Art of Autism[edit]

The Art of Autism is a nonprofit organization which empowers autistic people and their families through the arts which includes visual arts, music, blogging, poetry, dance, and other art forms. They provide various opportunities for autistic artists to display their creations and share their personal stories as well as for merchandising the art works. In addition, they are dedicated to fostering the importance of art for autistic people and offering mentorship opportunities.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pennisi, Paola; Giallongo, Laura; Milintenda, Giusy; Cannarozzo, Michela (2021-02-01). "Autism, autistic traits and creativity: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Cognitive Processing. 22 (1): 1–36. doi:10.1007/s10339-020-00992-6. ISSN 1612-4790.
  2. ^ Baron-Cohen, Simon; Ashwin, Emma; Ashwin, Chris; Tavassoli, Teresa; Chakrabarti, Bhismadev (2009-05-27). "Talent in autism: hyper-systemizing, hyper-attention to detail and sensory hypersensitivity". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 364 (1522): 1377–1383. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0337. ISSN 0962-8436. PMC 2677592. PMID 19528020.
  3. ^ a b AutismConnect - Museums thrust autistic artists into the mainstream
  4. ^ MSW, Marci Wheeler. "Academic Supports for College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder: Articles: Indiana Resource Center for Autism: Indiana University Bloomington". Indiana Resource Center for Autism. Retrieved 2022-09-19.
  5. ^ "Artist Collaborative". The Asperger / Autism Network (AANE). Retrieved 2022-09-18.
  6. ^ a b "The value of art therapy for those on the autism spectrum". The Art of Autism. Retrieved 2022-09-18.
  7. ^ Malhotra, Bani (2019-10-02). "Art Therapy With Puppet Making to Promote Emotional Empathy for an Adolescent With Autism". Art Therapy. 36 (4): 183–191. doi:10.1080/07421656.2019.1645500. ISSN 0742-1656.
  8. ^ Thayer, Faith; Bloomfield, Bradley S. (2021-04-01). "An evaluation of a developmental individual differences relationship-based (DIR®)- creative arts therapies program for children with autism". The Arts in Psychotherapy. 73: 101752. doi:10.1016/j.aip.2020.101752. ISSN 0197-4556.
  9. ^ "Artwork". autism speaks. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  10. ^ Baron-Cohen, Simon; Ashwin, Emma; Ashwin, Chris; Tavassoli, Teresa; Chakrabarti, Bhismadev (2009-05-27). "Talent in autism: hyper-systemizing, hyper-attention to detail and sensory hypersensitivity". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 364 (1522): 1377–1383. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0337. ISSN 0962-8436. PMC 2677592. PMID 19528020.
  11. ^ Cardinal, Roger (2009-05-27). "Outsider Art and the autistic creator". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 364 (1522): 1459–1466. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0325. PMC 2677583. PMID 19528031.
  12. ^ Grandin, Temple. “How does visual thinking work in the mind of a person with autism? A personal account.” Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences vol. 364,1522 (2009): 1437-42. doi:10.1098/rstb.2008.0297
  13. ^ htreasure (2018-09-30). "Art & Autism: All the Benefits | Hidden Treasures". Retrieved 2022-10-21.
  14. ^ "Stephen Wiltshire - Buy original drawings and limited editions". Stephen Wiltshire. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  15. ^ Smith, Roberta (1999-01-22). "ART REVIEW; Redefining a Style As It Catches On". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
  16. ^ Henriett Seth F. – Rain Girl | Wisconsin Medical Society Archived February 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Wisconsin Medical Society Archived December 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ George Widener – A Multiply Gifted Savant | Wisconsin Medical Society Archived December 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "George Widener". Ricco Maresca Gallery. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  20. ^ "govy". govy. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  21. ^ "Ping Lian Yeak, Artist", Psychology Today.
  22. ^ Pal, V. (2005) "Stroke of Genius" The Star (Malaysia), 03 Feb 2005.
  23. ^ "Escaping 'Drudgery' for a Life Well Lived: The Story of Artist Gregory Blackstock". KNKX Public Radio. 2019-08-03. Retrieved 2023-01-20.
  24. ^ Mullin, Jill. Drawing autism. Grandin, Temple. New York, NY. ISBN 978-1-61775-198-1. OCLC 833301442.
  25. ^ "The art of autism". Retrieved May 6, 2020.