Although 5-year-old Maeve couldn’t see the white praying mantis about to step lightly onto her wrist, her face lit up the moment its tiny legs made contact. She sat quietly as Cinnamon Nash, CSW, explained that the day’s art class was going to be “all about bugs—listening, touching, and using all of our senses.”
The setting was “Celebrate Summer: Art Therapy for Children with Low Vision”—one in a series of classes and seminars offered by the John A. Moran Eye Center's nationally recognized Patient Support Program. The 2019 summer art class spanned five weeks and included children ages 5 to 10 with severe low vision, most of them legally blind.
Fun with a Purpose in Free Resource for Visually Impaired Children
“The kids love being with each other, engaging in projects on an even playing field. Here, they can simply be in the moment.”
Nash teaches new ways of thinking about art. She begins by emphasizing that “there are no rules here”—a phrase she repeats throughout every session.
“These children experience frustrating vision problems, including blindness, which will impact them the rest of their lives. But they are resilient and creative, both in navigating the roadblocks of vision loss and in using all their senses to create charming pieces of art,” explained Nash. “We build on that by encouraging them to trust their imaginations—to feel or hear something like a plant or a bug, or play with scratch-and-sniff stickers, and then decide how they want to paint or use crafts like pipe cleaners to create something based on those perceptions.”
Though she conveys simple lessons through fun and games and all kinds of tactile and auditory stimulation, the underlying purpose of art therapy is to help kids use art to tap into their inner calm. The creative process distracts them from thoughts that may be holding them back or causing anxiety. On the last day of class, each child makes a sensory box. The box is a memento containing items that engage each sense—for instance, fuzzy pom-poms for touching—that they can use at home.
Having an art class with peers has been fun for this group,” said Nash. “Many of them know each other from local schools for the deaf and blind, but they don’t generally get together when school is out. The kids love being with each other, engaging in projects on an even playing field. Here, they can simply be in the moment.”
Art Therapy for Children with Low Vision
Art Therapy for Children with Low Vision is a yearly program supported by donors and is open to children ages 5 to 10 at no cost. Contact Cinnamon Nash, CSW, at 801-213-2764 or email@example.com for information about the summer 2020 session.
Moran's Patient Support Program
Moran’s Patient Support Program offers a variety of professionally moderated support groups and vision
rehabilitation services to help patients of all ages, families, and caregivers find ways to understand, accept, and move past the limitations of vision loss. Learn more.