#135 - Why We Love the Draw a Person Test for More Than Testing Purposes!

by Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L January 27, 2021

 Listen & Subscribe on Your Platform of Choice:

Why We Love the Draw a Person Test for More Than Testing Purposes!

Have you ever had your child / client / student draw a picture of a person, or of themself? Did you know that the drawing can tell you a lot about the child’s understanding of their body and environment?

That’s what this episode is all about! And of course, stay tuned ‘til the end to hear tips, tricks, and strategies to help improve body awareness, spatial relations, and more! 



Why We Love The Draw A Person Test For More Than Testing Purposes

The Goodenough Draw Person Test, created by Florence Goodenough, is a widely used assessment tool in occupational therapy. It is an alternative to traditional IQ tests and comprehensively analyzes cognitive abilities by interpreting drawings.

What The Draw A Person Test Can Tell You

The Draw-A-Person test evaluates a child's cognitive and emotional growth and fine motor abilities. Through careful analysis of the child's drawing, an occupational therapist can gain valuable insights into their intelligence, attention span, memory, visual-motor integration, and emotional well-being. 

Intelligence And Cognitive Abilities

The Draw-A-Person test presents a distinctive and groundbreaking approach as an alternative to conventional IQ assessments. This assessment thoroughly evaluates a child's cognitive abilities, encompassing their proficiency in following instructions, capacity for abstract thinking, and artistic expression through drawings.

Fine Motor Skills

When children draw, they actively employ their hands and fingers to manipulate pencils or crayons, showcasing their fine motor skills. By observing the child's grasp of the writing instrument, control of hand movements, and ability to apply appropriate pressure, we can gain valuable insights into their development.

Emotional And Social Aptitude

Drawing is a powerful means of expression for children, enabling them to convey their emotions and thoughts without relying on words. The Draw-A-Person test provides valuable insight into a child's emotional well-being, self-perception, and social interactions.

The Advantages of Drawing

In addition to its evaluative aspects, drawing is a highly advantageous activity for children. It aids in the refinement of their hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, and spatial awareness.

Drawing activities can also be a therapeutic intervention, providing children with a secure and non-verbal outlet to articulate their thoughts and emotions. Additionally, it nurtures the growth of creative problem-solving abilities and boosts self-esteem by giving constructive feedback.

Moreover, it enriches a child's linguistic and interpersonal abilities. By nurturing an understanding of their physical presence and movements and fostering a bond with their surroundings, they also cultivate attentiveness to the nonverbal cues of others.

Reflective Questions To Consider

The interpretation of a child's drawing is crucial for effectively utilizing the results of the Draw-A-Person test. Analyzing every aspect of the drawing thoroughly is essential as an occupational therapist.

Pay close attention to these specific areas based on your observations:

  • Pencil grip: Assessing how the child holds the pencil. Are they using a functional grasp?
  • Posture at the table. Can they sit upright, or are they in a slouched position?
  • Paper stabilization: Are they using their opposite hand to hold the paper, or is their opposite hand simply resting in their lap? Do they appear to be oblivious to the movement of the paper while they are drawing?
  • Ocular motor skills and head position: Are they maintaining a midline position while drawing? Are they resting their head comfortably on the side of their arm?
  • Amount of force applied to their writing utensil: Are they exerting excessive pressure or using a light touch? Do they experience rapid hand fatigue?
  • Self-criticism: Using phrases like "I can't draw" or "this is awful" and then giving up, it becomes vital to address their emotional well-being, fine motor skills, and visual perception. 

Fun Games For Learning Body Parts

One of the primary objectives of this test is to assess a child's understanding of body parts. To make learning about body parts more fun, here are some activities you can do with your child:

  • Take turns pointing out various facial features, challenging the other person to identify each part.
  • Sing the classic song "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes" while pointing to each corresponding body part.
  • Wrap the child snugly in a blanket, like a delicious taco, and engage in conversation about the corresponding body part as you place each ingredient.
  • The Game of Operation: Players perform surgery on a patient, carefully removing different body parts without touching the side of the board.
  • Howie's Owie's: Applying assorted band-aids to different areas of Howie's body, utilizing the magnetic board.
  • Simon Says and the Hokey Pokey.
  • There is plenty of heavy work to engage their proprioceptive system effectively. 

Occupational therapists can empower children's holistic development by incorporating the Draw-A-Person test into their practice. This assessment encompasses cognitive, emotional, and fine motor abilities, providing therapists valuable insights into a child's strengths and weaknesses.

With this understanding, therapists can precisely tailor interventions to target areas for skill enhancement. As a result, occupational therapists effectively promote overall well-being and academic success, fostering the child's growth and potential.





While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.

This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L
Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC & Jessica Hill, COTA/L

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in All Things Sensory by Harkla

#312 - Supporting Gestalt Language Processors in Occupational Therapy Sessions
#312 - Supporting Gestalt Language Processors in Occupational Therapy Sessions

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC June 11, 2024

Read More
#311 - Teaching You How to Set Up Obstacle Courses that Target Multiple Goals
#311 - Teaching You How to Set Up Obstacle Courses that Target Multiple Goals

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC June 04, 2024

Read More
#310 - Answering Your Sensory and OT Questions
#310 - Answering Your Sensory and OT Questions

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC May 28, 2024

Read More
Liquid error (layout/theme line 860): Could not find asset snippets/oneclickupsellapp-theme.liquid