The Intersection of Arts, Disability, and Learning

A Teaching Artist and performer have a conversation through rhythm and dance at The Art of Me.

 Upstream Arts is proud to be part of the small but steadily emerging field at the intersection of the arts, disability, and learning.We are continually striving to develop our website as a hub of research and dialogue around this work.

Please note: these links, authors, and publications are NOT affiliated with or endorsed by Upstream Arts. We cannot be held responsible for the contents of any externally linked pages. To peruse our own publications and research data, click here.

Additional resources also can be found on our Arts Resources, Disability Resources, and Education Resources pages.


“The Arts in Early Childhood: Social and Emotional Benefits of Arts Participation” (PDF)
A Literature Review and Gap Analysis (2000-2015), National Endowment for the Arts

“The Art of Change: A Ford Foundation Project Exploring the Intersection of Art and Justice”
The Ford Foundation, 2015

“Art Education and Disability Studies”
by John Derby, Disability Studies Quarterly, 2012

“The Arts and Achievement in At-Risk Youth: Findings from Four Longitudinal Studies” (PDF)
Published by the National Endowment for the Arts, 2012.

“Outcome-Based Evaluation of a Social Skills Program Using Art Therapy and Group Therapy for Children on the Autism Spectrum” (PDF)
By Kathleen Marie Epp. Children & Schools Journal, 2008.

“Using Drama-Based Interventions to Improve Educational Outcomes in Students with Special Needs” (PDF)
By Maren Lindner (former Upstream Arts Board Member), for the University of St. Thomas

“Critical Evidence: How the Arts Benefit Student Achievement” (PDF)
Published by the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies in collaboration with the Arts Education Partnership, 2006.

“How Students with Disabilities Learn In and Through the Arts: An Investigation of Educator Perceptions” (PDF)
By Christine Y. Mason, Mary S.Thormann, and Kathlyn M. Steedly. A VSA Arts Affiliate Research Project. 2004.

“Critical Links: Learning in the Arts and Student Academic and Social Development”
Published by Arts Education Partnership, 2002.



Making Art Special: A Curriculum for Special Education Art
Helen Goren Shafton, 2010

Creative Expressive Activities and Asperger’s Syndrome
Judith Martinovich, 2006

Moving Over the Edge: Artists with Disabilities Take the Leap
Pamela Kay Walker, 2005



Arts Unbound
Bibliography of Arts Education and Disabilities (Kennedy Center/VSA)
Creative Dance Center
EveryDay Arts for Special Education (EASE)
The Rhythmic Arts Project
Unrestricted Interest
VSA – The International Organization on Arts and Disability
VSA Minnesota – The State Organization on Arts and Disability
Young Dance