Showing posts with label pretend play. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pretend play. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

When Pretend Play Goes Wrong

When The Boy was first diagnosed with autism, the doctor told us he lacked imaginative play skills. Since then we've been working on building The Boy's imagination and working on pretend play.

In the last year, The Boy's imagination has been slowly emerging. And it's been wonderful to watch! 

For instance...last night The Boy pretended to be a barber.

So um, YAY for pretend play. 

BOO for big piece of hair missing.  

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Party Like an ASD Rock Star

Ever wonder what goes on at 3:30 am?  


Norrin using his pretend play skills to recreate a scene from Disney Pixar Cars: Mac, Wingo, DJ, Boost & Snot Rod.  (Yes, even sleep deprived & super crabby I needed to take a picture.) 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Thanksgiving is more than eating..."

"...Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck...We should just be thankful for being together."  

Tomorrow, I'm going on strike. I'm not cooking.  I cook 364 other days of the year, I'm entitled to a break. Okay, that's a lie - I don't cook 364 other days of the year.  But I do know that I've spent the last 8 years slaving away in the kitchen for days before, during and after over a meal I don't even like.  I don't like turkey. Or sweet potatoes or gravey.  Hell, I just started to eat pumpkin pie last year.  

Tomorrow, we will take a trip into the City and watch the parade (fingers crossed that The Boy likes it) and order Chinese or Mexican.    

For me, Thanksgiving has never really been about the meal - it's about the feeling of togetherness - whether it's with family, friends or the friends that have replaced family.  Thanksgiving is about sharing. Talking. Laughing with the ones we love.  But most of all - looking back and reflecting on all that we are thankful for.     

Last Thanksgiving I created a Top 10 List of the things I am most thankful for.  My list is pretty much the same - with a few tweaks. 

10. My job. It may not be ideal, but it pays the bills.
  9. My cozy little apartment - it's home.  
  8. My writing - it's therapeutic
  7. The network of support I've created through my writing.  (That's YOU - reading this!)
  6. My friends - They make me laugh even when it's really hard to.

  5. My family - I have a great support system. 
  4. My Mother: I'm lost without her & The Boy is lucky to have her as his Abuela.
  3. The Husband: A phenomenal partner & father.  He believes in me when I cannot.
  2. The Boy: (my list within my list)
  • He's said "I Love You" all on his own
  • he's pointing; jumping
  • clapping 
  • singing
  • reading
  • dancing
  • playing appropriately
  • riding his bike and starting to ride his little scooter
  • He's day time potty trained - woohoooooooooo 
  • he's asking questions
  • he says please and thank you
  • he's realizing that on Halloween you get candy, on Thanksgiving you eat turkey and for Christmas Santa comes and brings presents
  • he's building his imagination
  • He's cutting and coloring
  1. That I'm able to appreciate all the little things every single day.  

What are YOU thankful for? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: "It's time for bed."

The Boy during Saturday's Sensory Gym session. 
He buried himself under the pillows and said,
"It's time for bed.  It's time to sleep." 
Sigh...if only it was that easy.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bed Hopping, Pretend Playing and Other Wee Morning Hour Shenanigans

Sound sexy?  It's so not.   

After yesterday afternoon's public meltdown I assumed The Boy would have a good night's sleep. 

Hahaahahhaaaaaaaaaaa!  I am a foolish woman.  I guess all the little changes (a week off, new classroom - HHG summer session, and yesterday's cancelled OT session) have thrown him off of his routine.  And whenever there's change in routine,  that's usually when our sleep suffers.

I say "our" because when The Boy's up - we're all up.  Well, last night it was just me.  The Husband slept through it.

At about 2 am - I hear The Boy talking.  I open my eyes and realize the hall way light is on and he's sitting there with Linny, Tuck and Ming Ming.  (The Wonder Pets.)  I scoop The Boy up and take him back into his room.  I get into his bed, hoping he'll fall back asleep.  But somewhere between the hallway and The Boy's bed, Tuck has fallen.  And The Boy needs all three.  So he crawls over me and finds Tuck. 

"Go sleep in Mommy's bed,"  he says.          

So I get up and follow him into our bed with Linny, Tuck and Ming Ming too.  After 20 minutes of The Boy rolling around.  He gets up and goes back into his room.  I hear him start pulling out toys.  I hear him talking to himself.  Pretend playing with his Wonder Pets.  He is reciting lines from "I Was So Mad"  and "Toy Story."  There's also some spontaneous speech thrown in.  "Rise and shine.  It's time to go to school." His words are clear and his voice has emotion and kind of sing songy.  And part of me, doesn't want to disturb him; he's playing so appropriately.

But it's almost 3 am.  And I'm tired.  Exhausted actually.  And The Boy has school.  And I need to go to work.  So I get out of bed and go into his room.  I give him the look  and he hurries into his bed.  I climb in next to him (again). 

"Okay Norrin, it's time to go to sleep."
"We have to go to school?"  He asks.
"Yes.  First school.  Then Grandma.  Then Miss Natalie."  I say.

This continues for the next 2 hours.  Hopping between beds.  The Boy pulling out toys and books, playing and reciting lines.  Me, drifting in and out of a light sleep.  The Boy walking throughout the apartment, turning on lights.  Me, getting up and turning them off, kicking legos to the side, trying not to slip on toy cars, ushering him back into his room.  I've given up on getting him to sleep but I at least try to contain him in one place.

By 5 am, The Boy is still up and my alarm goes off.  The Boy is starting to calm down, he's getting sleepy.  I can tell by the way he's sitting and staring off.  I know he'll go to sleep only to be woken up by 6:45.  And I really haven't slept.  Remember the kind of day I had.  Momma had to pull out the Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea (vodka) and make herself a serious glass of mommy juice.  And I didn't got to sleep until a little after a 11.

And then I thought about that article - about how the "GTF to Sleep" book isn't funny.  I've read the book.  It's funny.  Hilarious actually.  And obviously, I know enough not to read this to The Boy.  And I am the kind of parent who reads every day to their child.  So I'm allowed to think this book is funny.

You know what isn't funny?  Waking up at 2 am and staying up.  And I can't even tell you how many times I wanted to just scream "Go the F--k to Sleep."
Well, maybe I yelled it once - around 4 am - but without the F-Bomb.           

Here's hoping tonight is a better night.  And if it isn't - The Husband will not be sleeping through it.    

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Living Thing Inside Your Child (Rediscovering Puff the Magic Dragon)

I loved watching Puff the Magic Dragon growing up.  However, a few months ago, I watched it again with The Boy.  We'd been reading Peter Yarrow's Puff the Magic Dragon to The Boy at bedtime and thought it would be fun to watch the 1978 TV special.

When I watched the opening scene, I couldn't help but start crying (I know, I am a big ol cry baby).  Because little Jackie Draper sounded like he may have had autism.          
Bald Doctor: We have come to the conclusion that your son...
Tall Doctor: Will not, nor can not...
Short Doctor: Speak, communicate, nor indeed...
Bald Doctor: Relate in any way to the world around him.
Jackie's Father: But doctors, we know that. He hasn't said a word in such a long time.
Mother: Can't you give us some hope that he will finally speak?
Tall Doctor: Alas, the case is hopeless.
Considering the year this was written in the 1970s, I could very well imagine doctors telling parents that their children were hopeless.  Then Puff comes on the scene.  And I see Puff as this hippy ABA sort of therapist who is determined to find the ''living thing" inside Jackie Draper.      
Puff: Now, I'm going to borrow the living thing inside you and place it INSIDE Jackie Paper. Your living thing. You wonder what it is? It is that what causes you to laugh and to cry and to care. It is that which makes apples crunchy and tells your nose to tingle on a crystal winter's morning. It's kept in your left ear, you know.
Isn't that what we all work towards with our children - finding the Living Thing?  The thing that makes our children laugh and cry; the thing that allows them to relate to us and the world around them.  The thing that allows them to imagine, to nurture their creativity, their empathy.

I know it's what we work towards.  We use books, toys, more books and music.  If one thing doesn't work, we move on to something else.  Sometimes we reintroduce  things that haven't worked in the past - hoping it could work the second or third time around.  The thing is we keep trying.  We never see The Boy as a hopeless case.  All of our children have the Living Thing within them.  Sometimes, it just takes parents, caregivers, teachers, siblings, family members a little longer to find it.       

We are like Puff.  Looking for all sorts of fancy stuff.   Trying and always hoping.  Having the courage to try new things - because even if we're not successful at one thing, at least we know we've made the effort.  And we continue to have the courage to move and try other things.
Watch Puff the Magic Dragon (in 3 parts)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Power of Imagination

I watch The Boy in fascination.  "Down by station, early in the morning..." he sings.  The first lines are the only ones I recognize and remember.  (The Husband sent me the lyrics last week,  I will have to memorize them so we can all sing together.)  The Boy sings in a high pitched voice and the rest of his words are mumbled.  Since The Boy's been talking more, trying harder to communicate, I always feel guilty when he says something I can't understand.

He is singing and playing with his trains.  Setting up the tracks, attaching the bridge, connecting it to the tunnel.  I am always amazed that he always creates the tracks in different and complex patterns.  When he's finished, he lines up the trains and starts pulling them through his pretend Thomas the Train world.  Calling each train by their proper name - Bertie,  James, Gordon, Toby - engaging in pretend play.  He creates dialogue between the trains.  Most of it scripted - a combination of lines memorized from books and cartoons - though he's using the lines appropriately, as if recreating a story line.  While scripting may be considered a self-stimulating behavior, I allow The Boy to continue since the elements of pretend play are there.  I sit with him and incorporate my own dialogue with the characters so that we are sitting and pretending together.

When The Boy was diagnosed with autism at 2 1/2 years old, he had no language and the developmental pediatrician said he had no imaginative play skills.  As a writer, to hear that my son lacked imagination seemed ironic and almost cruel.  I had such a vivid imagination, I wanted to build a career on it.  The Husband is a photographer and comic book fanatic.  How do two creative individuals produce a child with no imagination?  One of the joys of childhood is the limitless possibilities of pretend play; where the mind can go anywhere, before the grim reality of life sets in.

However, for all of my imagination, I never realized that pretend can be taught.  Through intense center based and home based therapies (ABA, Floortime, TEACHH, SEIT, Speech, OT and PT), The Boy has learned to imagine and to understand the concept of pretend.

The Boy loves his rocket ship tent and together we count down from 10 and then he says "Blast Off!"  The Husband shakes the tent.  The Boy giggles and I watch as he squeezes his eyes.  I wonder what he sees.  I imagine he sees himself rising above the clouds, floating in outer space.  He giggles some more and screams, "Again, Daddy!  Again! It's time to blast off!"  The Boy's eyes open again, and they are bright, glistening with excitement and joy.  He walks out of the tent, looks The Husband in the eye and makes his request again.  But before counting down, The Boy grabs his Buzz Lightyear action figure, so they can journey into space together.

We read books that introduce creativity and imagination like Harold and the Purple Crayon, Tar Beach and If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  I encourage him to make up his own stories, using the books he loves as models.  I'll begin with, "If you give a Boy a piece of gum."  The Boy will say, "He will ask for some juice."  It doesn't always make sense, but it's a foundation.  We are communicating, taking turns, having a conversation, he looks me in the eye.

I like to imagine that The Boy will be a writer or some kind of storyteller.  One day, we may be reading his blog or a book that he's written.  And in that book or blog, he will introduce the world only he knows.  And we will be awe - because it's a world no one else could have imagined.  There was a time, when I couldn't have seen this.  Just as The Boy needed to learn the concept of pretend play, I needed The Boy to restore my sense of imagination.