Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Draw Something

with 9 comments

‘Cat,’ by Pudding_Girl in acrylics and tears.

On Saturday, we went to an indoor playground, with staff that watches your kids while you have a coffee in peace.  That is the theory anyway, what usually happens is that my kids see me having a coffee and decide they would like to order everything on the menu, particularly if it happens to be both unhealthy and expensive.

This particular place also had an art room, and following our success last week, I thought Pudding would be happy to give it a try.

I was right.

The staff member pointed out all the things that Pudding could paint for free, and all of the things we’d have to pay for.  Pudding sees a canvas, and determines that is her medium of choice.  I see the price tag, and vehemently disagree.  Then I see a cat in the free section.  I’m thinking cat…Hello Kitty…painting: this will be right up her street.

I was wrong.

Pudding immediately starts sobbing that she doesn’t want to paint the cat, she wants the canvas.  I hold firm, and she begins to paint, but cries through the whole experience.  Talk about moody artist.

Upon reflection though, I can see her point, whereas she wasn’t able at this time to see mine at that moment.  Her point is that she wants to paint something.  She wants to express herself on canvas with paint, not simply colour in something that already exists.  Really, I was denying her the right of self-expression, which must be the ultimate in frustration for a child on the autism spectrum who already struggles to express herself in typical ways.

Pudding’s ability to draw has also come on leaps and bounds lately.  She has always loved drawing, but the end result was very repetitive (perhaps intentionally so).  She has always enjoyed drawing people she is close to, now she is adding more detail: hair is long, short, or curly.  Clothes have pictures on them.  And she is moving on to drawing other things: houses with garages and cars, trees, and of course, showers.

A few weeks ago, at least a month after everyone who is anyone, I started playing the Draw Something app.  I adore playing in real time while on the other side of the world to the boy I sat with in school when we were Pudding’s age, even if my artistic talents haven’t developed since that point.

It is very interesting playing with other mothers of children on the autism spectrum.  To be good at Draw Something, you don’t necessarily have to draw well (though that helps, obviously) as long as you are good at expressing yourself in a way that your teammate/opponent will understand.  We mothers get to be pretty good at that.

It comes as no surprise to me that Fi of Wonderfully Wired and I have played so many successful turns that it stuck at 99.  Nor that Alysia of Try Defying Gravity finds a way to use positive reinforcement when my efforts are particularly successful.  Solo Dialogue and myself were both hyperlexic, and we are both far better as expressing ourselves through words!

But for me, the real draw (forgive the pun) of this app is the way I get to play with my daughter.  Games are so, so challenging for Pudding.  Or at least the games we’ve tried haven’t been right for Pudding.  Following rules that she doesn’t appreciate is tough, taking turns is also hard, and actually being interested enough to play to win?  Just not her.

But we play our own version of Draw Something that plays to her strengths.  Pudding can read a few words, perhaps twenty, but nothing like the number she’d need to read to play independently.  So with Daddy’s help, she is taught the word, and then draws it for me.  When it is my turn, she guesses my picture, then Daddy helps her pick out the letters to solve it.

I’d love to see a version where the word could be read out for the non-readers who play.  But for a social game, it definitely manages to avoid several of the things that generally frustrate us both playing more traditional games.

Sometimes she’ll freestyle and draw her own thing before she can be persuaded to draw the pick, but it just adds to the game for me- trying to work out what her drawing is, and whether or not it is relevant for my game.

As for her game, all that is important is that she gets to draw something.  One time her turn was “cat”.  She can both read the word, and draw the image, so she got to play independently.  Then again, whenever she is given her own blank ‘canvas’ she can express herself independently, and that is a thousand times better than just painting a cat.  Lesson learned.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

9 Responses

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  1. We also play Draw Something with Little Miss. She does not have the motor control to draw or the understanding of written words to read, but she loves “helping” to add finishing touches to the pictures and putting letters in place as we spell out the word. It’s a great game!


    May 15, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    • It really is a great game, I could see a kids version being wildly successful too. Pudding has serious fine motor delays, but it is her motor planning that really hampers her drawing. Draw Something has been a great way of encouraging her to draw something different, instead of sticking to the same images over and over again.

      Spectrummy Mummy

      May 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm

  2. Love this post! I like how you understood why she so wanted that canvas. I like when you said that it has to be especially rough for kids on the spectrum who already struggle with self-expression. My son struggles with that as well, and there are times when I notice it in much the same way as you did with the canvas.


    May 15, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    • I’m truly excellent at deciphering something *after* the fact….during, when it would actually be useful? Not so much. We all live and learn though! 🙂

      Spectrummy Mummy

      May 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm

  3. Is this your way of telling me it’s my turn? 🙂
    I have my kids play with me too. They help guess, put the letters in, and then draw if they can. That’s a heads up in case every picture from here on out looks like a hot wheels car.


    May 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm

  4. We have probably 20 colouring books in our house that have never seen a coloured pencil. Christian draws for hours but colouring in other peoples images is not for him.And we have walls covered in his pictures of the Angry Birds game.


    May 15, 2012 at 8:43 pm

  5. Oh you’re an incredibly intuitive mother!
    And I need to reactivate my FB every couple of days so that I can access my draw something games! LOL


    May 16, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    • I know you needed the break but I miss you on FB 😦


      May 22, 2012 at 1:12 am

  6. Oh goodness! Leave it to me to check in late! When I first saw the cat, I kept thinking that rather than paint it was some kind of sculpted glass of a copper color with light reflected on it? Can you see it my way? Or am I just the crazy one? 😉

    I have been very lax on the Draw Something lately! I’ve been so busy and when I get a free moment to play it’s usually one handed during nebulizer treatments after the child is asleep or whilst he is eating which also requires some intervention with the hand… I shall be back! Be patient (and yes – my drawing skill is lacking so words are hopefully helpful – you on the other hand are quite good!) I can see where Pudding gets her talents…


    May 17, 2012 at 12:09 am

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