This week’s creative practice was supposed to meet the needs of children with Sensory Processing Disorders. Sensory Processing Disorders are “a collection of disorders related to how the brain processes and interprets sensory information, such as visual, auditory, movement, or tactile input” (Cosbey, 2010).
From my own research, I found that children with sensory issues often resist art projects because they do not particular like to work with a medium that may be messy. From my own experience teaching, I have always found that painting is often a popular medium. Kids always want to paint! I wanted to incorporate painting into my art piece, but in the “least messy” way possible. Therefore, finger painting was definitely out. I decided on watercolor paint because it involves less of a mess than acrylic or tempera would, for example.
Being able to paint without actually touching the paint (using a paint brush) would not trigger the “fight or flight” response that something like the touching of textured clay, would.
For my art project, I decided on zentangle-watercolor animals. I decided to use the contour (outline) of my favorite animal, a seahorse and create a zentangle pattern, using black sharpie, within it. After that was done, I added watercolor. I chose to stick with cool colors only (greens, blues, purples) and mixed in order to get different variations of color.
Watercolor, for me, has a very therapeutic and calming effect. For children with sensory disorders, often times they need this sense of calm. If I were to do this as an artist in residence with patients, I would consider the use of calming music during the art making experience as well. Aside from light music, I would also make sure that the environment had as little stimulation as possible, with little distraction and almost no sudden interruption that agitate the child patient.
During my creation of this seahorse, I had light music playing and I was alone (in my art room) with the door closed. Therefore, I had no distractions, I was able to focus on my own art making. The experience was even therapeutic for me, as the creation of art always is, therefore I can see this being very beneficial to these children.
Materials: 9x12 Watercolor Paper, Watercolor paint, paint brushes, pencil, thin black shapies, water cup
Cosbey, J., Johnston, S. S., & Dunn, M. L. (2010). Sensory processing disorders and social participation. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 64(3), 462-473.