It is believed by many that art is one of the most basic ways that people communicate their inner feelings, thoughts and values with the world outside themselves. This is particularly true of children, who are often times painfully honest in expressing how they see themselves and others by creating art. (Koplewicz and Goodman 12) For some children, though, the impact of this expression is underscored by conditions not in the outside world, but the world inside the child's mind. The psychological condition called Asperger's Syndrome, or AS, is one of those conditions that dramatically affect a child's perspective for understanding the world. AS is one of the most least-understood psychological disorders known to psychiatry, having only been introduced to most researchers by Lorna Wing in 1981. Even then, researchers have only been examining AS at all since the 1940s, when Hans Asperger first wrote about children who had what he called "autistic psychopathy."
[...] Through interaction with a therapist, the child began to reinterpret his images not as a scene of impending disaster, but as a scene from a science-fiction story. The formerly destructive fantasy in thus transformed into a means for building a sense of safety and security by viewing demanding and uncontrollable stimuli not as a source of annihilation, but as something harmless that the child can experience as though it were a movie. Art can also be used to aid children with AS in understanding how others express their emotions. [...]
[...] Attention can be drawn towards contrasting emotions through the use of color, and the therapist can help the child associate the appearance and words of the character in the comic with the emotion being expressed. This will allow the child to later identify these feelings in peers, allowing them to react in a socially appropriate manner. (Klin, et al. 355) This exercise can be extended by turning it into a give-and-take process, where the therapist draws an initial scenario, and asks the child to show how he or she would react to it. [...]
[...] The various applications of the visual arts in diagnosing and aiding children with AS allow us, to some extent, to remove these barriers and allow the child to reach their fullest intellectual, social and emotional potential. Asperger's Syndrome can never be cured. The disorder never goes away, and can only be ‘overcome' through constant effort at bringing the child into the world around them, matched by a constant effort to each inside the inner world of the child with AS to understand them. [...]
[...] (Ibid) Children with AS will explore, through fact and fantasy, all details of a single topic to the point of ignoring or expressing their disinterest in any other subject. Their knowledge on the topic is wide-ranging, going into vivid and at times unnecessary detail. As an example, Walter, a nine year-old boy, composed an essay on the Bermuda Triangle in which he described the family tree of the Loch Ness Monster, which he claimed vacationed within the triangle, as well as the fate of those lost over the triangle. [...]
[...] 322) The art of children with AS is at times of above- average quality, with the individual possessing an understanding of artistic principles above that of their peers. (Henley 116) Regardless of the child's capability to draw or otherwise create, however, it is critical for the adult to ask questions the image the child is producing. While symbols and representation might be unidentifiable to us, the child will often be eager to talk at length about the work, which usually focuses around the child's preoccupations. [...]
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