Home > About the Foundation > Our Stories > Tactile Drawing as Communication

Tactile Drawing as Communication

23-year-old Dylan has found a non-conventional communication system that works for him. It allows him to not only learn new concepts but to access higher-level cognition such as past, present, and future. By having his hand rest on mom’s, they draw very basic drawings. Kim Lauger is no artist, but in drawing with her, Dylan seems to gain so much more understanding and definitely has more control than he does with static picture symbols. Paper and markers can come out at any time they want to “have a chat”.

Tactile Drawing in Action:

An example is Dylan seemed to be at the stage where he might enjoy clown humor. With a one-ring family circus coming to town, we thought he might be able to get close enough to actually see. We got tickets for the shorter morning show, drew circus stories to prepare, and headed out. But when we got there early we found we couldn’t go in and get settled into seats before the crowd arrived. Instead, the clown, Nino, was encouraging a crowd to gather before opening the tent. Dylan wanted none of it! He pulled away, growled, and otherwise indicated no thanks. Nino saw Dylan and tried to say hi, but Dylan was intent on leaving. We followed Dylan’s cue and walked down the block a little and found a place we could sit down away from the commotion. As soon as I pulled the paper and markers out, Dylan’s body relaxed and he placed his hand on mine, ready to “talk”.Together we drew a very basic circus tent with a circle in the middle to represent the ring on three different pages. On one page we put horses going around inside the ring with people standing on their backs, the next a trapeze bar with a person hanging upside down, and the third with a clown. Finishing the story, we walked back towards the crowd, standing at the back, thinking maybe we’d wait until everyone went in, and perhaps we would still find a spot where he could see. But no, Nino announced that anyone who needed extra help could come in first – Dylan pushed his way through the crowd and led us right up to Nino and on into the tent to a seat in the very front row. He watched the circus, that luckily happened to have just the acts I’d drawn, laughing and smiling so much, that Nino even asked if he wanted to come into the ring to help him. Dylan’s body pulled back indicating NO. (We drew Dylan watching from outside the ring, he was definitely not ready for going in.) At the end of the show, we left amongst the crowd, with Dylan stopping to shake hands and take a selfie with Nino. Through these spontaneous moments of drawing, we can then co-draw symbols for inclusion in his communication book, building his vocabulary based on his experiences. And the more we draw together, the more his overall communication and language skills continue to grow, with ASL continuing to emerge at Dylan’s pace.

The Take-Away: Find the communication system that works best for your child!