Individuals with learning disabilities may struggle with skill development, ranging from verbal and non-verbal communication challenges or a lack of social skills. This can often result in individuals feeling misunderstood or lonely, leading to exacerbated mental health challenges. Individuals start to harbour negative thoughts and feelings which can present themselves through behavioural problems, or feelings of anxiety and frustration.
Art therapy has been proven as an effective medium through which individuals with learning disabilities can express their thoughts and feelings. They have been utilised as a means to explore different communication methods, better understand the state of mind and discover new ways to find solutions to challenges they are facing. Art therapy is believed to be a motivational tool through which individuals with learning disabilities can communicate and interact. This can be facilitated through painting, drawing, music, dance or drama which are the various aspects of art therapy. Each person is different, hence the type of therapy helping one individual would not necessarily have the same impact or facilitate their progress in the same manner.
It is important to understand the emotions and thoughts that are being expressed through the therapy which will ultimately provide a pathway towards healing, self-growth, and the ability to interact with others. It is believed that creative expressions facilitate emotional wellbeing and healing. Individuals have the means through which they can communicate with their personal experiences. Through fostering creativity, individuals can gradually discover their self-identity, feel calmer and allow themselves to heal. Feelings and the wide variety of emotions felt, can express themselves through an array of different colours and creatively captured through art therapy.
Art therapy has been proven to help individuals to promote self-esteem and build self-confidence. In addition, individuals have been able to cope with negative elements associated with living with a disability and the societal stigma attached. Within the past, individuals with invisible disabilities have been perceived as unequal to their peers. Instead, they have been pitied, underestimated and have not been able to achieve what their peers have done. However, art therapy can help individuals to express themselves and excel.
Technological advancements have created a platform through which a vast variety of media can be utilised. Individuals can find mobile Apps that will enable art therapy to be accessible whenever individuals require it, despite their location providing they have internet access.
No matter what type of art form is chosen to pursue, it can help individuals with learning disabilities to improve their mental health through a creative method. The physical health implications that are prevalent due to impacts of anxiety and stress can be improved through art therapy. Therefore, art therapy should be considered, as a means to provide support to individuals with learning disabilities so that they can self-heal and integrate with others through cultivating self-confidence. In addition, it provides a medium through which therapists can evaluate the internal emotions of individuals with learning disabilities to facilitate their growth as individuals.