Express Yourself Arts Therapy
Health, disability & well-being
Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000
Express CIC was established by two local parents of children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The aim of Express is to help support young people and their families and to raise autism awareness in the community.
Express are looking to fund a local Arts Therapy group to provide a space for children and young people on the autism spectrum to interact and connect with others in a fun, supportive environment. The group aims to meet the speciﬁc and unique social and emotional needs of children with autism using creative tools such as drama, puppetry, art, music and storytelling.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. One of the characteristics of autism is difficulty with verbal and social communication. In some cases, people with autism are unable to use speech to communicate at all, while in other cases, people with autism have difficulty in processing language and turning it into conversation. Many people with autism have the ability to think visually (“in pictures”), and can use this ability well to process memories, record images and visual information, and express ideas through drawing or other artistic media. Art is a form of expression that requires little or no verbal interaction which can open doors to communication.
All too often, it is assumed that a non-verbal person or a person with limited verbal capabilities also lacks ability in other areas. As a result, people on the autism spectrum may not be exposed to opportunities to use artistic media. Art therapy offers an opportunity for therapists to work one-on-one with individuals on the autism spectrum to build a wide range of skills using an approach that they may be more comfortable with and that may be more effective than spoken language.
In addition to art therapy sessions, Express are seeking funding to provide a support group for children and young people who have a sibling with autism and want to make new friends and have a space to share their feelings.
Younger people who have a sibling with autism might experience bullying from other children, a lack of privacy, disruption of their home life and a feeling of resentment that the whole focus of the family is often on the person with autism. Older siblings may worry about whether they are going to have to look after their brother or sister when their parents are no longer able to do so, and what support they might receive. Talking with a friend or with a person from outside of the family may be a comfort to many siblings, offering a new perspective on their lives and helping them to realise that they’re not alone.
Autism is not a visible physical disability and is not always well understood by the wider community. As a result those with autism, and their families, are at risk of becoming isolated, which has a profound effect on their social and emotional wellbeing, causing anxiety, lowering of self-esteem and depression. One young boy who attends Express Yourself said 'it's good, it makes me feel happy'
Voting for our projects would make a real and positive difference to the lives of up to 66 local children and young people living with autism.