Imagine this: you wake up one day, every light is blinding, every sound echoes in your ears, everything you touch feels like a cactus, you can’t tell whether you are hot or cold, and the only way you can tell where your limbs are is by flapping them continuously. Now, imagine when you try to get help, you can no longer speak. You know what you want to say, but the words just won’t come out. This is just one example of the endless realities of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. My series, You Feel Me? Explores the sensory experiences of those with ASD, and expresses them creatively.
This series features seventeen collapsed, wheel-thrown, white stoneware sculptures and eight acrylic paintings on canvas board. Connecting with both my own sensory experiences as well as what I have witnessed in the field, I translated those feelings into my work to create a non-verbal language. Focusing on form and color, my hope with this series is to both help those like me without Autism to empathize with those who do, as well as to inform the development of a future protocol for treating those with Autism.
This thesis investigates the use of clay to facilitate the expression of sensory processing abnormalities in those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Through arts-based research, this thesis will answer the following: What are the benefits and therapeutic applications of clay? What is the relationship between sensory regulation and expression? Additionally, how can sculpture and clay be implemented into therapy for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder? To investigate, the researcher created seventeen sculptures and eight paintings to correspond with over-stimulation, under-stimulation, and cravings corresponding to the eight human senses. The senses focused on were visual, auditory, gustory, olfactory, tactile, proprioception, vestibular, and introception. This thesis encapsules a basis for a future protocol in treating those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.