Spectrummy Mummy

Asperger's, Allergies, and Adventures Abroad

Posts Tagged ‘art

Art Matters

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For three years now, I’ve opened her school bag to see if I can gleam from the contents what her day was like. My powers of deduction aren’t exactly at a Sherlock level, but I use each clue to tease more conversation from her. My goal is to add some words beyond the script of, “you played with your friends at school.”art

Some days I get some real evidence: her artwork. I’ll ask her if she was learning about snowmen or flowers, or Hello Kitty (because Mr. Holmes himself would deduce that she was education at the Hello Kitty Centre for Learning and Cute Fun!). But for years she didn’t care. She is about the process, not the end result. Art was done. Finished.

For so long, I’ve praised her art, asked her questions about it, showed it to others. But something was always missing. She didn’t care. She didn’t care if we thought it was good or bad. The only way we knew she ever thought it was good or bad was that she was a mistress of censorship, and much of her work was scribbled out as soon as it was completed.

That thing that Cubby seemed to be born with- a pride in his efforts- just seemed to be missing in her. And while parenting Pudding is a welcome relief from the “look at me, look at me” antics of her brother, I wondered if she would ever feel that pride. Pride in herself, pride in what she could do.

deerstalker

It was important to me that she felt it. So even if my words were never heeded, I would take that artwork from her bag and tell how good it was. I couldn’t make her care about her achievements, but she would always hear that we did. Let her hear us singing her praises even if she never wanted to join in our melody.

And then things changed.

Maybe it was being in a classroom with other little people who loved their work and showing it off. Maybe she knew that to compete with a sibling who wants all of our attention, she’d better seek some of it. Maybe all our words sank in. Maybe it was just time.

First she started to show me her work. Then she let me add it to her wall.

And then I guess I missed some one day, and I found that her art collection on her bedroom wall had grown by two pieces. They were fixed so neatly to the wall, that I at first assumed her daddy had added to the gallery. Only I found the box of adhesive on the floor, and I know he would have put that out of reach of the kids. I checked, but it wasn’t him.

When I asked, Pudding confirmed that she’d put her pictures on the wall. I could elicit no further details, but you don’t have to live on Baker Street to deduce that she put it there because she liked what she’d done. She placed it there with care because it is important to her. Her art matters to the most important critic of all.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 4, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Draw Something

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‘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

Wordless Wednesday 09 May 12

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Image

Cubby’s Painting

Image

Pudding’s Painting

Following from yesterday’s post, here are the end results.  Happy Wordless Wednesday everyone!

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 9, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Artistic

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Pudding loves art, so it was high time we gave her the chance to indulge in an activity that focused on her talents.  This weekend I discovered a place nearby that was just perfect for us- an art studio where you buy a canvas, and all paints and materials are free to use to make your work of art.

Both kids enjoy the process of painting, they don’t usually care too much about the end result, but going to an art studio was different, and special.

I hadn’t counted on how busy such a venue might be on a Sunday afternoon.  It was crowded with lots of people, noise, bright lights and colours.  Coming down with a cold, my senses were under assault, and I could feel myself getting overwhelmed.  Cubby became more restless too, but interestingly, Pudding seemed to channel her focus into what she was doing.  Generally, rather than become more absorbed in an activity, she tends to withdraw and disengage in the face of potential overload.  Not this time.

Pudding still struggled with motor-planning.  She wanted to paint a heart in her picture, and asked for my help.  Frequently when Pudding draws at home, she gets frustrated that the image doesn’t match her expectations.  Here she didn’t get frustrated: she just kept painting until she was done.

This was a place where Pudding could express herself without the challenge of words.  A space where getting absorbed in her activity and tuning out the rest of the world was an asset.  A place where she could be herself: as an artist and an autist.

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Written by Spectrummy Mummy

May 8, 2012 at 10:46 am

The End

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There is something pretty sinister about disappearing from my blog for a week, only to emerge with a post entitled “The End.”  Anyway, we’d been in the Drakensberg mountains for a week.  For some kids on the spectrum, a change in routine can be hard for them to handle, but Pudding was spectacular for the entire week, which of course meant that her brother had to be the one acting out.  A week without internet access was quite isolating for me, but obviously something about the area suited her well.

In fact, she was doing so well throughout the week, that I began to get concerned about how she might react to returning home.  I had a couple of talks with her about the fact that her holidays were coming to an end, but she didn’t seem too perturbed.  Finally we got to Saturday: the day we were driving home.  I’d already packed her toys away, so Pudding was busying herself by drawing pictures in the condensation on the windows.

Before long, she became frustrated.  What she sees in her mind’s eye never translates well enough to paper, or glass in this case.  She so loves art and drawing, that her fine motor difficulties are at odds with her perfectionist tendencies.  Several times she drew something on the window, only to rub it away moments later.

Pudding: Mummy, help me!

Normally I love that she will actually ask for help instead of getting angry about something that is challenging.  Normally.  But not when it comes to drawing.  If she finds it hard to translate an image, it is even harder for me to decipher.  I’m neither an artist nor a visual thinker, so my efforts rarely turn out the way she wants.  A week earlier she’d been trying to draw a shower, or a series of showers for different people (Hello Kitty’s shower, Cubby’s shower, Jimmy’s shower) and it had taken a while to produce something satisfactory.  n the end I’d drawn a very similar shower with different colours to denote the ownership.  I was glad that I got there in the end, but it took repeated efforts.

On the morning of our departure, I didn’t have sufficient time to devote to the craft.  I hoped against hope that she would ask for something simple that I could easily reproduce.

Me: Okay, quickly- what would you like for me to draw?

Pudding: The End.

Oh.

I racked my brains.  Was she referring to the end of her vacation, in which case some suitcases and a car might depict her commission.  Or, picking up on her inflection, does she really mean for me to draw The End?  And what in the universe would that look like?  Why is my five-year-old an existentialist?

After a few seconds of looking like a goldfish, I thought of a solution.  This wasn’t so different from Hello Kitty’s shower.

Me: Okay, but you have to tell me- what colour is The End?

Her turn to be the goldfish.  What was I doing talking about colours when we were drawing with our fingers?  In fact, she still hasn’t answered me, and she let me go about my business of getting our things together.  I’m not fool enough to think this is over yet, but I do have a reprieve.  At least until she comes up with a colour for me.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

February 7, 2012 at 9:00 am

Wordless Wednesday 09 Nov 11

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Believe

Okay, so it isn’t quite wordless this Wednesday.  We were at a local organic market, and we came across this beautiful piece of beaded art from Zimbabwe.  We knew we had to take it home.

Happy Wordless  One Word Wednesday.

I hope you have something, or someone you believe in, no matter what the frame looks like.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

November 9, 2011 at 6:55 am

Wordless Wednesday 12 Oct 11

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Sibling togetherness for outdoor painting time.

Written by Spectrummy Mummy

October 12, 2011 at 10:50 am