LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (Autism Walk) -- M2 Gallery, in Little Rock's Pleasant Ridge Shopping Center, will host the inaugural Master Pieces fundraiser for the Arkansas Autism Speaks chapter and A Camp tonight at 7-9 p.m. You can purchase tickets at the door.
The world of autism is a mysterious one, with few windows into the inner workings of this neuro-developmental disorder. However, therapists are learning an illuminating secret that's revealed through artistic expression.
For six-year-old Elijah, engaging in normal childhood activity can be frustrating.
Elijah has autism, a disorder that's characterized by difficulties in social interaction and communication. Elijah's speech-language therapist Rachel Morse says therapy for autistic children must include sensory interaction.
"Many children on the spectrum have a lot of sensory integration challenges," says Morse. "Involving as many of the senses as possible can strengthen them."
Morse has been working with Elijah for two years now. She decided to see how he would react to expressing himself through art -- and says it was hit.
"Sometimes you see his verbal expression really explode when it's something that's meaningful to him," says Morse.
He even began incorporating strings into his artwork. Squirting blobs of paint into a container, Elijah individually pulls strings through the paint onto the canvas. A piece of his work will even be up for auction at an Autism Speaks fundraiser Friday night. Morse says art helps build those foundational blocks that every child needs.
"With a child like Elijah it is a really rich experience for strengthening his exposure to different sensory experiences. It brings him to light. It brings him out. It's a kind of experience that can woo him into communication."
Morse says therapy needs to be a part of every autistic child's life.
"Therapy is crucial, therapy is critical from day one, the whole family. It makes a world of difference with children. It makes a world of difference with the families who are walking it 24/7."
In Elijah's case artwork has brought color to the autism spectrum.
"That's one of the things I love about art that it really reaches children sometimes where other things don't."
Proceeds from the art benefit A-Camp, a six-week summer camp for youths with autism spectrum disorders hosted at Camp Aldersgate, and the third annual Arkansas Walk Now for Autism Speaks event, Oct. 6, 2012 at the Clinton Presidential Center.
About A-Camp: A-Camp is an awesome therapeutic summer day camp that is accepting of all kids with autism and their friends. Its goal is to create memorable experiences and promote relationships through an engaging, nurturing and adventure-based program. A-Camp is held on the beautiful grounds of Camp Aldersgate, where children can enjoy a traditional camp experience by canoeing, fishing, hiking nature trails, swimming, singing, and engaging in arts and crafts activities. A-Camp operates for six weeks during the summer months to provide the continuity and engagement that help children with autism thrive. A-Camp is really all about love, hope and acceptance. ACamp4Kids.com
About Autism Speaks: At Autism Speaks, our goal is to change the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders. We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle. Autism Speaks. It's time to listen.
Source: Arkansas Walk press release