Special Education

“Art education and special education can transform the lives of people with special needs.”

Art education was combined with special education even before there were reforms to create special accommodations for children with special needs in typical classrooms. When it comes to art, art therapists are often used to connect with students with special needs. However, some art therapists pull students out of the classroom, causing them to be restricted in their social learning. Because of this, art therapy is reserved for students who do not have much chance for long-term improvements, but rather short-term developmental skills.

Special educator Jean Lokerson and art educator Amelia Jones wrote that “the art room is a place where learning disabilities can turn into learning assets.” Special needs students often come out of their shells and get enthusiastic about creating. Art is also a way that special educators teach their students fundamentals that they may not even realize. Gerber, B. (2011). Art education and special education: A promising partnership. Paper presented at 2011 NAEA national convention, Seattle, WA. Retrieved from

Special educator Wanda Flora tries to use art in her classroom as much as possible, because she believes it is essential that her students engage in hands on activities. “Art encourages participation in all activities”, she said. She explained that “adaptive art teachers” should be in every school to ensure that those students with special needs are encouraged and motivated in the classroom. She uses different art supplies to teach her students writing, but mostly to increase their motor development and sensory skills. There are ongoing studies that continue to prove that art and special education go hand in hand. Testing continues to prove that art in any classroom, but especially special education classrooms causes students to be motivated, enthusiastic, and in some cases, even promote learning in other subject areas.