Recommendations to Designing Arts Programs for Children on the Autism Spectrum in Art Museums
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Art education programs offer formal and informal learning opportunities to individuals with various experiences and abilities. However, there are fewer resources available to contribute to the cognitive, social, and emotional progress of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Many types of museums offer creative art programs that are accessible for students with ASD but this trend has not reached smaller museums or art centers. Similar practices that are used in large art museums can be applied to smaller establishments throughout the country by creating awareness of ASD and providing examples of programs for children with autism. This research seeks to discover the practices used in Art Therapy, formal learning environments, and free learning environments in order to understand how to educate children with ASD through literature reviews. This research project also consists of two case studies of programs specifically designed for children with ASD at the Denver Art Museum, in Denver Colorado and at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene, Oregon. By understanding ASD and comparing these case studies, brief recommendations are provided to help implement programs for children with ASD. Small museums can use these recommendations to help create accessible learning opportunities for children with ASD that will enhance their social learning skills.