Adapting Art For Special Needs Kids With A Short Attention Span

Posted August 12, 2014 @ 1:07pm | by Danelle

Adapting an art lesson and providing a meaningful art experience for an artist with special needs and a short attention span can be a challenge. Many times these kids or adults are overlooked or they do not expand their skllls. Using this process I have been able to increase engaged participation for some of my students from 5 minutes to 30-50 minutes at a time.  Here are some tips for building skills and attention span.

Engaging and Building Skills

  • Start by letting the artist experiment with small art projects that can be completed quickly. Start with 3 small projects. The artist can choose what material they would like to use. (Example: oil pastels, paint and clay) Give the artist 15 minutes (or the number of minutes they can do, this may be as little as 5 minutes) to work with the material. Call this done when the artist gets restless and completes the 15 minutes.
  • Introduce the next art project and materialsl. Have the artist work on this for 15 minutes. Call this done when the artist gets restless and completes the 15 minutes. Continue with the third project this way.
  • As the artist becomes more confident, have the artist repeat the same art projects. They will know what to expect, solidify skills and be ready to learn new ones. Set a goal with the artist to increase the time on each project by 5 more minutes. (15 minutes goes to 20 minutes) The artist works for 20 minutes on each project. Introduce another step to each art project. This will keep the project exciting and the artist can build confidence for their abilities. Continue to increase the time and steps as the artist works on the lessons more.
  • As the artist continues to work on art projects for longer and longer amounts of time adjust the routine from doing 3 short art projects to doing two longer art projects. Structure the art session with one project for the first half and a new project for the second half. You can give the artist a 5 minute break in between the projects if needed.

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