Art activities for kids with autism

Updated April 17, 2017

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder that effects social and communication skills. Art can be an overlooked part of an autistic education curriculum, but art activities allow kids with autism to exercise creativity skills, learn how to conceptualise their view of the world in symbols and pictures and improve motor skills.

Finger Painting

For finger painting, provide several different coloured washable finger paints and poster board or white paper. The sensation of cool paint on fingers can be an enjoyable stimulation, and finger painting allows kids with autism to gain more control over the painting without using a brush. For kids with autism who find the sensation of the finger paint unpleasant, use rubber gloves or roll objects like toy trains or balls into the paint and use them as prints.

Dry Erase Markers

You can mount a dry erase board on the wall and provide several different colours of dry erase markers. Mounting a dry erase board allows the art to be in clear view and is more enticing than using paper on a flat surface. Dry erase markers are easily erased, and kids with autism can modify drawings and erase to make room for new art without using up paper supplies.


For this art activity, place air-dry clay on a pie tin or plate. Working with clay can help kids with autism learn how to work with their hands, and the feel of the clay provides a soft, enjoyable sensation. Kids with autism can mould the clay into shapes and stick feathers, googly eyes and sequins into the clay. After the clay dries, it can be used as a decoration.

Shake Jars

Kids with autism can create shake jars that hold colourful and reflective objects. Kids can take plastic water bottles and fill them with liquid soap and water, then hunt for objects to place inside the jar such as rocks, balls, sequins, glitter and beads. Creating shake jars fosters choice-making skills and learning how different objects reflect in the water.


Provide a camera or video recorder so that kids with autism can take photographs or create a documentary. Photography enables kids with autism to share their worldview with others. You can pin photographs up on the wall or refrigerator and show videos as family movies.

Nature Collage

Schedule a nature walk so kids with autism can collect flowers, bark, rocks and leaves to create a nature collage. Kids can take strips of bark and glue different nature objects on it to create the collage. A nature collage teaches kids with autism to interact with the surrounding world and explore the outside world.

Everyday Objects Art

Take away the paint, clay, glue, markers and paper and encourage kids with autism to create art with everyday objects. Art can be created from such objects as rocks, cardboard, gum and tin foil. This encourages kids with autism to become aware of their surroundings, interact with the environment and discover the potential of creating art from everyday life.

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About the Author

April Lee started writing professionally in 2009. She is the marketing writer for an independently owned cheese business. She attended the University of North Texas and majored in English.