Today was my first Autism Art class. I have taught a similar class as an “outreach” program where we used a room at a church, but this is my first time teaching in the studio at the gallery. We had five children between ages 6 – 9. It went pretty well, all things considered. The first day is a time for getting to know each other and the dynamic of the class. While I knew things would probably take their own course, I set up a few areas – pipe cleaners and beads, painting, drawing and printing with found objects. Some of the children also enjoy going on walks in the gallery.
One issue we are having is whether or not to put out all the art materials and allow the children to use whatever, or to put out only certain materials. I think in the past the kids have been used to the first option, and certainly I see some benefit in having many options available. It’s great to have child initiated work. But I also wonder if when everything is available, there is less of a reason to explore some different materials or tools? Sometimes too, even in a standard class, it is easy to worry that children won’t enjoy something, and to over compensate by putting out a whole bunch of materials, which really undermines the initial ideas. I’ll have to speak more with the Occupational Therapist to see what she thinks. I’m also reminding myself that they wanted an art teacher and if they just wanted piles of materials they wouldn’t need one. Hopefully we will find a happy medium.
But overall I’m happy with the way it went and now that I have met the children I’ll be able to think some more about what activities might specifically interest then.