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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Badrock

Could Art Therapy be another Angelman Syndrome Treatment Plan: A Revolutionary Approach or Just Another Fad?

Author: Samantha Badrock

Date Published: 16th April 2024


Angelman Syndrome (AS) is a complex neurodevelopmental variation characterized by developmental delays, intellectual disability, speech impairments, and unique behavioral traits. As discussed in the previous article, AS presents significant challenges for individuals and their families, requiring comprehensive support and intervention strategies.


A girl with angelman syndrome
Features of Angelman Syndrome. Picture Credit: https://images.app.goo.gl/nHk2VTLSU8oLC2Jq9

In recent years, there has been growing interest in art therapy as a therapeutic intervention for individuals with AS. Art therapy offers a creative and expressive outlet that can help individuals with AS communicate, cope with emotions, and develop social and cognitive skills. By harnessing the power of art, therapists can engage individuals with AS in a meaningful therapeutic process tailored to their unique needs.


This article aims to explore the role of art therapy in the treatment of Angelman Syndrome, examining its potential benefits, challenges, and practical applications. By delving into research findings, real-life experiences, and expert insights, we seek to provide a comprehensive understanding of how art therapy can contribute to the well-being and quality of life of individuals living with AS.


Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy that utilizes creative expression through various art modalities, such as drawing, painting, sculpting, and collage-making, to promote healing, self-discovery, and emotional well-being. Unlike traditional talk therapy, which primarily relies on verbal communication, art therapy taps into the expressive and symbolic qualities of art to facilitate communication, reflection, and insight.


Art therapy works by providing individuals with a safe and supportive environment to explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences through artistic expression. Through the process of creating art, individuals can externalize their internal struggles, gain new perspectives, and develop a deeper understanding of themselves and their emotions. Art therapists guide clients in interpreting their artwork, helping them uncover underlying meanings and patterns that may be difficult to express verbally.


The goals of art therapy vary depending on the needs and objectives of the individual, but common objectives include enhancing self-awareness, improving emotional regulation, fostering self-esteem and confidence, promoting relaxation and stress reduction, and developing coping skills. Art therapy offers a wide range of benefits, including increased self-expression, improved communication and interpersonal skills, enhanced problem-solving abilities, and a greater sense of empowerment and control over one's life. Additionally, art therapy can be particularly effective for individuals with neurodevelopmental variations like Angelman Syndrome, providing a nonverbal means of communication and self-expression that complements traditional forms of therapy.


While art therapy is widely recognized as a beneficial intervention for various mental health conditions, including neurodevelopmental variation like Angelman Syndrome (AS), there are some potential controversies surrounding its application in this context. One concern is the variability in individual responses to art therapy, as not all individuals with AS may find it engaging or effective due to their unique cognitive and sensory profiles. Additionally, there may be skepticism among some healthcare professionals or caregivers about the validity of art therapy as a therapeutic modality, particularly if they are unfamiliar with its principles and practices.


a drawing of a brain
Could art therapy help manage Angelman Syndrome

Implementing art therapy for individuals with AS can present several challenges, both logistical and practical. For example, individuals with AS may have sensory sensitivities or motor coordination difficulties that affect their ability to engage in artistic activities. Communication impairments and limited attention spans may pose challenges in establishing rapport and facilitating meaningful therapeutic interactions during art therapy sessions. Furthermore, art therapy may require adaptations and accommodations to meet the specific needs and preferences of individuals with AS, which can require specialized training and expertise on the part of the art therapist.


When implementing art therapy in AS treatment programs, several practical considerations come into play. Firstly, it's essential to create a supportive and safe environment conducive to creative expression. This may involve setting up a designated art space with appropriate materials and tools tailored to the individual's needs and preferences. Additionally, art therapists should be trained to adapt their approach to accommodate the sensory sensitivities and communication challenges often associated with AS.


Addressing concerns about the efficacy and long-term impact of art therapy in AS treatment requires careful consideration of the individual's needs and abilities. Implementing art therapy within AS treatment programs requires careful consideration and specialized expertise to ensure its effectiveness.


For families and caregivers interested in incorporating art therapy into their care routines for individuals with AS, there are several practical tips to consider. Firstly, it's essential to explore different art mediums and activities to find what resonates most with the individual. This may involve experimenting with various materials, colors, and techniques to discover what promotes engagement and expression. Additionally, consistency and routine are key aspects of successful art therapy interventions, so establishing a regular schedule for art sessions can help foster a sense of predictability and structure for individuals with AS.

By incorporating art therapy into AS treatment programs and care routines, caregivers and treatment providers can enhance the well-being and quality of life of individuals with AS, fostering creativity, self-discovery, and personal growth.


Art therapy holds promise as a valuable intervention for individuals with AS, providing a creative outlet for self-expression, communication, and emotional processing. By engaging in art therapy, individuals with AS can explore their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a supportive and non-verbal manner, fostering personal growth and empowerment. While challenges and controversies may exist, the success stories and positive outcomes observed in art therapy interventions underscore its potential as a complementary approach to traditional treatments for AS.


List of support services for people living with Angelman Syndrome:

  1. Angelman Syndrome Association Australia (ASAA) Website: https://angelmansyndrome.org/ Email: info@angelmansyndrome.org Phone: 1300 804 833

  2. Carers Australia Website: https://www.carersaustralia.com.au/ Phone: 1800 242 636

  3. Disability Advocacy Network Australia (DANA) Website: https://dana.org.au/ Phone: 1800 422 015

  4. National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Website: https://www.ndis.gov.au/ Phone: 1800 800 110

  5. Better Start for Children with Disability Initiative Website: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/better-start-for-children-with-disability-initiative Phone: 1800 242 636


References: American Art Therapy Association. (2022). About Art Therapy. Retrieved from https://arttherapy.org/about-art-therapy/

  1. Angelman Syndrome Foundation. (2022). About Angelman Syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.angelman.org/what-is-as/

  2. Malchiodi, C. A. (2012). Handbook of Art Therapy. Guilford Press.

  3. Malchiodi, C. A. (2019). Art Therapy Sourcebook. McGraw Hill Professional.

  4. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2022). Angelman Syndrome Information Page. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Angelman-Syndrome-Information-Page

  5. Troski, E. (2018). Art Therapy for Individuals with Neurodevelopmental Disorders: A Comprehensive Review. Journal of Art Therapy, 35(2), 78-89.


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