treehouse illustration

Art Therapy for Special Needs

I have Sensory Processing Disorder and the struggle is very real. As a child I was in constant battle with the world around me…as well as my parents and teachers. I’d often retreat to the woods behind my house where I built a tree fort to escape the chaos and drama and seek much-needed solitude. That was where I found peace, and I spent hours talking to the various insects and birds that accepted me and my quirky, special need for quiet time.

As an adult, I’ve learned that throwing myself on the floor while kicking and screaming isn’t a socially acceptable way to deal with the overwhelming sensory input that my brain fails to process properly. But the disorder continues to wreak havoc in my everyday life. For example, in order to survive the corporate cubicle world where I work, I have to wear noise-canceling headphones all day long, but this isn’t ideal for inspiring creativity or productivity.

I no longer have a treehouse or secret fort deep in the woods that I can retreat to as an adult. Unfortunately. However, there IS one thing I’ve found that truly calms my stress and melts away the chaos and discomfort of my hyper-sensitive sensory system. That one thing is drawing. 

Hours and hours quickly pass by as I lose myself into the calming effects of creating art. It’s therapeutic, even magical, how the brain can focus and relax when putting pen to paper. Somehow, it makes my otherwise debilitating disorder simply seem to disappear. Ahhhhhhhh!

Flying Colors Coloring Book Flying Colors by Jennifer Allison

I have found the miracle cure! It restores energy and provides an outlet that is both safe and exhilarating! And there’s no nasty side effects!!

As a result of all my recent drawing, I put together 30 detailed, hand-drawn illustrations and turned them into an expert level coloring book. It’s available now from

Have you ever tried coloring or drawing to help with your own disorder, chronic pain, stress or anxiety? If so, please leave a comment. I would love to know how art therapy helps you too. And I would REALLY love for you to try my new coloring book.

It works. It REALLY works! ENJOY!


For more insights about how I perceive the world with a sensory disorder, and how I overcome a world of chaos and misunderstanding, please watch my TED Talk:



Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month’s Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!



  1. I just read a whole article on how coloring is the one activity that is similar to meditating for calming brain AND affecting quality of life. Yay!
    Now to find you a new treehouse 😉

  2. This past year I also have started doing “art therapy” on myself 🙂 I have gotten into Art Journaling, and you are right…it is magical. Partly because there is nothing “wrong” that you can do, it is free creativity. But also just working with paints and glue and various papers and designs as well as the different pencils and markers, brushes…the feel of them against the paper–it all is so therapeutic! And as I “loose” myself in the process, my mind loosens up too, to better be able to think about things that may be bothering me, or just some not-a-problem things I’m working out. Like understanding a scripture…by really thinking about translating a scripture into art, the deeper meanings of that scripture surface as I work on the art journaling of it.

    I love it. And, I love your coloring book! The whole family loves it and found favorite pictures to work on 🙂

  3. I didn’t know it was energizing. I must find time to try this. Your book looks beautiful. I put it in my wish list:-)

  4. I love that you have found something therapeutic for you. I, myself, have never tried it although I love the idea of doing a painting class with my girlfriends one night. But now that you’ve mentioned it, my son does love painting on his easel. Time to use it more often.

    1. Once I start drawing, I can literally go 10-12 hours without stopping. I get totally lost in my imagination and the process but it’s very relaxing and helps me out tremendously. Painting class with your friends also sounds like that would be a ton of fun.

  5. I have never had the ability to draw, but I can doodle for hours – and doodling when on calls for work helps me ease the stress of being on the phone, something I really dread especially with people I haven’t physically met. But coloring sounds great, because I can get creative with colors/shading, but don’t have the stress of not being able to draw – I am going to try it!!

    1. I also used to draw a lot. I don’t know why I got away from it and am scared to try again. I have even been offered a job by an old friend that saw my art but I have some fear of drawing again. Don’t know why.

      1. I had a 20 year hiatus from drawing. It wasn’t necessarily by choice, but life got busy, I was a single parent and had to work a lot. I just picked drawing back up in the last year and my coloring book came out. But, I was really nervous at first too. I did draw, then undo and redraw quite a bit. Each drawing in my book took me about 10 hours because I had to get my chops up again. I think you should go for it… besides, art can often be more for expressing ourselves than trying to please others. Although, it is VERY nice when people like our work. 🙂

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