How to Help a Child with a Learning Disability Benefit from the Arts


According to research, an estimated 8 to 10 percent of American kids under the age of 18 have some type of learning disability. Learning disabilities affect a child’s school performance, their confidence, and their overall social adjustment. They do not reflect a child’s intelligence or IQ, yet many assume that having a learning ability makes them “stupid.” The truth is, these conditions affect the child’s ability to interpret what they see and hear and how they are able to link information from different parts of the brain.

There are many types of learning disorders, but some of the most common include dyslexia, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and common sensory processing deficits. Dyslexia makes it difficult for the child to comprehend what they are reading. ADHD, which affects more than 6.4 million children, causes kids to become easily distracted, and they often experience difficulty containing their energy in a traditional school setting. Dyscalculia is a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to do math, while dysgraphia causes problems with handwriting. Finally, kids with sensory processing deficits need instructional support in the classroom that helps them distinguish and remember important information that they need.

 Learning Disorders and the Benefits of Art

An arts education has many benefits for children. It helps develop hand-eye coordination and concentration skills. It enables them to think outside the box and be more creative. Children learn to express themselves in new ways and take risks that may or may not reap rewards. They improve their visual learning abilities, and problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. Furthermore, adding arts to the curriculum can help improve their school performance overall. A study funded by Americans for the Arts found young people who participate regularly in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair, or to win an award for writing an essay or poem.

Children with learning disabilities can benefit from the arts even more. Learning the arts stimulates different parts of the brain, which can help with sensory processing issues. An improvement in focus due to the arts can easily translate to better concentration in other classrooms. Furthermore, taking art classes helps a child with a learning disability gain confidence in his abilities to learn and grow.

●      Textile arts are a great, easy-to-learn option for kids of all abilities, and because there are so many online resources available to help your child learn sewing skills (like these from HomeAdvisor), you don’t have to invest in lessons. Sewing helps strengthen fine motor skills, and can be especially beneficial for children who need to work on the art of patience.

●      Children with learning disabilities benefit from the multi-sensory experience of playing an instrument. Music also stimulates both sides of the brain, making information processing easier for those with learning disabilities. It also gives children with speech or writing difficulties a way to communicate without using words.

●      Hyperactive kids who have trouble controlling their energy and movements can benefit from dance classes. Dance is a physical art form that instills discipline and autonomy. The use of music in dance classes helps with sensory processing and brain stimulation.

●      The visual arts help children express themselves when they aren’t able to communicate in other ways. Learning to hold a paintbrush and use other artistic materials can instill hand and wrist dexterity in children with dysgraphia, as well.

 Learning disabilities are common and do not reflect a child’s intelligence. They are simply disorders that affect their ability to process information and function in a traditional classroom environment without aid. Adding an arts education to a child’s regimen is a great way to stimulate their mind, improve concentration, and increase confidence.

Article by, Lillian Brooks

Photo by, Pexels