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Discovering the Arts for Children With Learning Difficulties

by Alice Jonas  <>

For a child with learning difficulties, expressing oneself can be a challenge. If writing, talking, or signing are proving a struggle, there is always another way — the arts. Whether it’s music, acting, or painting, creative pursuits could provide your child with a source of endless enjoyment and a voice they never knew they had. 
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The Imagine Project suggests that learning an instrument should be included as a key component of a curriculum for children with learning difficulties. Instruments are an effective way to draw a child’s attention, and the act of playing one provides cognitive benefits that include improved self-discipline and concentration. A fun way to introduce your child to the world of music is with a trip to a music shop, so they can pick out an instrument for themselves.

Secondary to learning how to play music is listening to it. ScienceDirect cites studies showing that listening regularly to music has the potential to improve communicative skills as well as reduce self-injurious behavior and aggression. Parents and teachers now enjoy easy access to music via platforms such as Spotify and YouTube, and you’ll find there’s also plenty of playlists designed to soothe and aid in carrying out daily tasks. By exposing your child to music early on, you can set a precedent for long-term enjoyment!


Performance arts are often an excellent outlet for children with learning difficulties, and there are a multitude of actors and celebrities who have succeeded despite them. With growing acceptance of special needs in the arts, now is a better time than any to introduce your child to the stage. Contrary to belief, performing roles are highly adaptive and can often appeal to more introverted children. It’s also a great way to meet new people and collaborate in a safe space.

Getting started with performing arts is easier than you might suspect. The VSA (Kennedy Center) provides a list of resources for this exact purpose — they encourage engagement through webinars and online training courses as well as community-based art programs for those with special needs. You can work with your child’s school or institution to foster stage productions that are inclusive, but if public spaces are too intimidating, consider a home performance with help from the family.

Arts and Crafts

For some children, it can be a struggle to say what they really mean or transpose feelings into words. This is one of the great advantages of the visual arts — arts and crafts are not just a way to have fun, they’re also activities that aid in the improvement of motor skills and represent a totally new way for your child to communicate. 
Colored pencils are a good start, but for true expression, it’s all about painting. Make sure you buy either poster paints or acrylics as both are easily washable and quick drying. Things can get very messy, very quickly so you might also consider converting an unused area of your home, such as an attic or a spare room, to serve as an art space for their creative outlets and for storing all the art supplies. 

Start a Business
Their aptitude for painting may be so good that you want to help them set up a business to help them sell their work, a wonderful way to teach them other life skills and new levels of responsibility. If you’re forming a business, an LLC offers tax benefits and reduced paperwork. You can use a formation service rather than an attorney to make the process of starting a California LLC more affordable.

For a child with learning difficulties, it can often feel like you’re excluded from the conversation, but in the arts – whether it’s music, performance, or crafts – you’ll find a space where talking is easy and every voice is heard, big or small. If your child has an aptitude for art, you could even start a business selling their work.

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