Parallel Play with children who have Autism
That’s right, I have a black eye! It happened last night while playing with Daniel. One minute we were laughing and having fun, the next I was floored trying to catch my breath. Just another day in an Autism family. Daniel loves to play, all hands on deck rough housing play. His development pediatrician suggests that his need for rough housing is part of his sensory needs. He is always doing everything at mock 100, including playing. Last night his full force ended in mommy get a knee in the eye with all of his body weight behind it. My immediate reaction at the time fueled by the tremendous pain behind my eye was to lose my mind. That mommy moment could have gone two ways, fortunately I rose above the pain and didn’t freak out. Now maybe it was because I was so focused on getting ice that nothing else seemed to be going on. I know that Daniel didn’t mean to do it, and he certainly wouldn’t have understood why he was in trouble had I gotten angry. Still, living each day knowing that playing could mean a trip to the emergency room is hard. One of the things that we have been working with Daniel a lot on lately is playing. How to play appropriately, how to recognize when someone is done playing, and more importantly when someone wants to play. Teaching life skills and language seems more straightforward than teaching play. There are books and resources to turn to when teaching those things. Playing is so different. Everyone plays so differently with different motivations. Being able to recognize and respond to social cues to so important when playing, something that most children with Autism have a lot of difficulty with. One of the strategies that we development to work with Daniel on playing is for mommy to get right down in the trenches with him, which unfortunately puts me in the danger line. Language, curriculum, life skills, socials skills, those are all very important, but so is playing. Being able to play is a right that every child should have, it may take work, and clearly may result in injuries, but the importance of it far outweighs those risks. Take a few minutes every day to play, not only will your child love it, but you may get the best 5 minutes of your day from it.