Adapted Scribbling-You Don't Always Need an App for That

In my previous post, I mentioned that ever-present hurdle of getting our kids with significant cognitive and physical challenges to engage in drawing and coloring activities, or any arts and crafts project for that matter! The fact of the matter is, these activities are really hard for our kids, challenging many of their sensory, cognitive, and motor systems all at once, and, frankly, the effort tends to outweigh the reward. I had the great fortune of working as lead teacher in a small language enriched, special-needs preschool program in Florida, which gave me the unique opportunity to do something many speech therapists don't generally get to do-make "coloring" my business! :) Well, at least for the 15 to 20 minutes of the school day reserved for art time. You might be wondering(especially if you are a speech therapist, always focused on verbal output) "what's the big deal about coloring anyway?".

I recently stumbled across a unique web article, "When Children Draw" By Sandra Crosser, Ph.D (out of Ohio Northern University) which provided some nice insight on the role of "doodling" in well-rounded child development. We know it is important, not only to motor skill development, but also to cognitive, emotional, and social development. So how can we bring this developmental gem to our kids with challenges in a way they can manage, and more importantly, enjoy?

One way is certainly through Apps like Glow Coloring and others which add unique visual elements and modify the physical requirements usually needed for traditional scribbling, such as grasping a crayon and applying enough pressure to make a mark. But prior to using the iPad for adapted art, I found many "lower tech" adaptations that seemed to do the trick for many of my kids. One product I just HAD to have the moment the ad rolled across my TV screen was Crayola's Color Me a Song. By adding music to scribbles, Color Me a Song got many of my clients on the Autism Spectrum to pick up a crayon (and use it for awhile:)! I even used this cool tool t to teach color concepts by having my kids match the musical instrument button to the crayon color and show me what "blue" sounded like. As the scribbles speed up and slow, so does the music, making this a great tool for teaching qualitative concepts like fast, slow, quiet, and noisy in a multisensory way. Adapted crayons and paper stability can be used for those kids requiring more motor support. Other than that, for under 20 bucks (including flat sided, chunky crayons which come in the storage compartment!), you might just be surprised at how motivating this simple toy can be. What other adaptations (high, low, or no tech) have you used to help your kids catch the creativity bug?

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