Art is not only a skill that adults have, but something that children need for good brain development. It teaches them fine motor skills, helps them judge distances, shows cause and effect, and can be calming or, in contrast; an outlet for negative emotions. But for some children, such as those with Autism, art can be difficult. The bright colors of paint can be very stressful on the senses. Chalk dust can get all over the fingers (causing trouble for those with touch sensitivity). Paint is very sticky and can get everywhere, causing those with touch sensitivity to feel overwhelmed. Pastels are thicker than chalk and stick to the hands as badly as paint does. So where does this leave us? Believe it or not; water can be a great tool for children to create with. Granted, water tends to evaporate quickly, but you shouldn’t be expecting a child to paint a masterpiece anyway.
Taking the water outside will decrease the mess and discomfort that can come from spills. If you have plants that need to be watered, this is an easy way to get two jobs done at once. I took a plastic container I had laying around (it happened to be the bottom of a flower pot that has yet to be used). I filled it up halfway with water (feel free to fill it up all the way if you wish). I grabbed 2 paint brushes that were different in not only bristle texture, but handle length as well. This gave the Little Man options for what was comfortable for his hands and also gave him two different brush strokes. Feel free to only use one brush or use as many brushes as you want. You know how much stimulation is too much for your child.
At first, Little Man was very confused, but excited to touch the water. If you find that your child is cautious around the water, reassure them that it will be fun and safe for them to touch. I took the brush and swirled it in the water, to show him that he needed to get it wet first. When he reached for the brush, I pulled it out and began to “paint” with it. He got very excited, watching the water slide around the pavement. He was eager to try, so I gave him the brush. You may need to show them how to do it again, depending on the age of your child. He was happy to swirl it around in the water and quickly slapped it on the ground. But the fun was short lived and he quickly discovered that the brush could be rolled along the cement. This, of course, is expected, and should not be discouraged. If you keep “painting”, they will either take an interest in it again, or be done with it.
The point is for the child to have fun. If they aren’t having fun, there is no point. I was going to add food coloring to the water, to see if it interested him more, but there was an onslaught of mosquitoes; forcing us to retreat into the house. Now you may be asking “why is she bothering to blog about painting with water?” And my answer to that is; “because I want you to think outside of the box.” Sometimes children with “special needs” such as children with Autism, have sensory sensitivity. This can lead to people trying one thing (such as painting with paint) and finding that the child is uncomfortable, and never trying it again. But children can not only learn to appreciate certain things, but things can often be changed to make allowances for their preferences. My son doesn’t like paint, under any circumstance; but he is more than happy to paint with water. maybe your child hates water and would rather use chalk. Maybe your child doesn’t feel comfortable holding a brush, but enjoys the feeling of paint on their fingers. The point is to keep trying and make adjustments where they are needed.