The Necessary Centrality of the Arts
This presentation argues there is an urgent need for new teaching methods to engage childrenwith Autism Spectrum Disorder in the visual arts. The historical record shows that the ability to establish relationships with others based on the underlying presence of affect, on shared common interests, and on creative activity contributed significantly to the artist Jessica Park’s developmental progress as a person with autism. One method that seems especially effective is to combine behavior modification techniques with an interpersonal relationship. Intervention should not be a strict template on how to teach art to children with ASD but rather a flexible guide that supports the unique interests, talents, and skills of these artists. At the same time, it should consistently support their art process as a fluid and dynamic creative pathway of learning in the visual arts. This intensive social environment ensures a successful artistic experience in which learning in the visual arts can occur over time, with all the depth, layering, and complexity art can provide to innately creative autistic minds.
Gillian Furniss, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor of Art Education
Art and Design Department
Mississippi University For Women
Gillian J. Furniss, Ed.D. is an art educator and visual artist. She is Assistant Professor of Art Education in the Art and Design Department at Mississippi University For Women in Columbus, Mississippi. As a doctoral student at Teachers College, Columbia University, in New York City she wrote her dissertation on the role of intervention in the early art process of Jessica Park, an artist with autism. She taught art to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She writes articles in scholarly journals and presents at conferences about issues concerning how to teach students with ASD to engage in the visual arts.
More about Gillian Furniss at www.gillianfurniss.com