Beads, Birds and Babies
We love stories – here’s one about a mother and her child, learning to communicate and problem-solve through play.
My son has begun his Autism Outreach therapy. For those of you unfamiliar with it – it’s a developmental therapy offered for children with autism. And it’s basically using play to help kids hit those developmental milestones. Our therapist is amazing. I enjoy her a lot. She’s fun. She has a ton of ideas on how to play. (Yes, I did used to think play was easy). And she’s got a ton of great tips to help parents and to help their kids… things that may seem simple, but you just never thought of.
We’ve had a couple of meetings with her, and her goals are pretty simple. As often as possible, I should show my son three or four different ways to play with each activity, add emotions to our play, and bridge our ideas with my son’s. We want him to accept our ideas and add them to his ideas. The other day this story happened. I was so excited by it that I actually e-mailed her and said THANK YOU. This was my afternoon with my son because of her suggestions. Here is (most) of my e-mail.
…I enjoy playing with my son. But I am not quite as diverse as you have been telling me. Sure enough – you can show me how to make numbers and letters more than numbers and letters – and I can take it and run with it – but I’m usually “Oh here’s my doll – let’s do baby things with it”.
So I was very pleased with myself (and always my son) when today happened. I brought out his beads to play with. We started by making men (working on that fine motor). And then H. started playing angry birds. So I brought in (my daughter’s) toy monkey on her play mat as our slingshot. We did spins. And flips. And we got rid of many “pigs” and we got rid of a few “pigs” and we protected the birds eggs and it was fun. Then H. was finished with it so I said we had to clean up. We cleaned them up by color, and we cleaned them up by numbers. and we put them away fast, and we put them away slow, and we rolled them off our noses/sneezed them into the container. And at the end I couldn’t find the lid and H. said the ball would work. And it did!
. . . I love hearing my sons giggles at the silly silly things we are doing. That is yes, partly play, but still learning.
He was a bit less resistant to the changes. When I decided to change it – I was persistent, and he didn’t fight quite as hard. And I’m noticing a difference already in how he’s willing to change. Instead of just knocking pigs over – he added the eggs we had to protect.
At one point we used the beads and pretended it was “(my daughter)” and he said she wanted to be held. So my beaded “guy” picked her up and held her. Then I was like “I’m done holding her, should I drop her?” and my son said “Oh yes” so I dropped the baby and then said “oh no! She’s hurt. She’s crying” And he grabbed a “guy” and said “Oh it’s ok I’ll pick her up” and then he put the beaded “baby” down gently.
I think we’re both starting to step outside of our boxes.
I know for a fact that before Autism Outreach started, I would have been fixated on using those beads for fine motor skills. And when my son wanted to play angry birds – they would have been strung together in some way because THAT’S what I was focusing on. And instead? It was a fun time. Yes, there was some fine motor in there. But there was play. And there was additional learning. And there was so much communication. And, funny enough, he learnt way way more from that interaction than he would have JUST doing “drills” of fine motor.
Who doesn’t like to play?