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Nicole Martin: Art as an Early Intervention Tool for Children with Autism

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Nicole Martin: Art as an Early Intervention Tool for Children with Autism
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  BOOK REVIEW Nicole Martin: Art as an Early Intervention Tool for Childrenwith Autism Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, UK, 2009, 156 pp, ISBN 978 1 84905 807 0, $18.95(Paper) Sheila Christopher Published online: 17 March 2010   Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010 Early Intervention Tool for Children with Autism  by NicoleMartin is just the right book for busy parents, a practicalreference for psychologists, teachers, occupational thera-pists, sensory integration therapists and anyone workingwith a child on the autism spectrum. It will be of particularinterest to all those professionals working with autisticchildren and specialists in other communication disorders.Art therapy is a psychological discipline that specializes inusing visual art making and the creative process to helpclients bring about therapeutic change. There are resourcesfor children with autism in myriad forms, and art therapycould be the right fit for the child with autism and ‘‘art canprovide a way to express what is more complicated’’.Nicole Martin, a qualified art therapist herself writesfrom a professional and personal perspective. Setting up awork space, basic art materials required and ideas andsuggestions for managing challenging behaviour are pre-sented clearly in the book. Martin provides a comprehen-sive overview of the techniques of art therapy presented ina precise, interesting format for easy reading. The experi-ence of the author in using art as a therapeutic tool adds tothe authenticity of the work thus making it a reliable,authoritative, and appropriate source of information.Art therapists focus on several areas: increasing com-munication skills, developing a sense of self, relationshipbuilding, and facilitating sensory integration. This classicbook answers questions about using art as a therapeutictool for children with autism. Early childhood is the mostcritical period of learning for children. Therapeutic art canbe a useful tool to delve into a child’s imaginations andenable them to express their thoughts and feelings. Martinoffers practical advice on helping a child move pastscribbling, organizing a child’s environment for maximumcomfort and relaxation, and providing physical and sensorysupport. Martin describes observable differences of theautism-related style of art making and highlights the‘unique beauty and style’ of the art made by people withautism. Artwork characteristics across the autism spectrumare clearly illuminated, identifying the subtle differencesbetween the art of typically developing individuals and thatof children with autism. Art therapy provides a supportiveenvironment that encourages the child’s interests andworks on the deficit areas.Art is both visual and appealing, making it an excellentmechanism to initiate learning. Throughout the book,Martin emphasizes how art therapy works as an integralpart of overall management and treatment approaches toautism. The author presents a range of case studies of arttherapy with individual autistic children to bring to lightthe use of practical interventions and their outcome. Martinalso suggests that art therapy provides an avenue for non-verbal expression and enables the children increase theircommunication and social skills. As the book progresses,one can find the tempo of the book shifting from art asbeing purely recreational to being therapeutic as well. Thesimple examples, a detailed list of art projects, apt casestudies, spiced with illustrations and ultimately a compre-hensive list of resources at the end of the book add to thewholesome nature of the book. Her narrative is clear andlucid. The author presents word-pictures of scenes andpictures of art drawn by children themselves, by givingspecific details that appeal to the five senses. S. Christopher ( & )Department of Rehabilitation Science, Holy Cross College,Tiruchirappalli 620 002, Indiae-mail: sheila627@gmail.com  1 3 J Autism Dev Disord (2011) 41:685DOI 10.1007/s10803-010-0994-y
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