Are you in a game with your sweet child that seems to keep going in a repetitious way? In other words is your child interactive with you in a game where your child strongly indicates that he or she needs for the interaction to go a certain way over and over again. Do you find that you are giving bounces over and over or having to sing the same song over and over, does your child show you they want you to give them big swings or rides happily climbing back n you each time you set them down. For our, higher functioning children they may really want to talk about one particular subject.
What a great opportunity! Your child is reaching out to you, connecting to you in the best way they know how. HOORAY! They want you to be a part of their world and they are not excluding you. This is a huge step for your child. In these repetitious interactions there are rich opportunities to expand your child’s flexibility. Here are some things to consider when you find yourself in a game such as this.
First embracing the attitude of excitement and delight even if it is the 300th time you have sung this song or the120th time you have gotten on that therapy ball and bounced with your child. There are rich opportunites when we know our kids our motivated for something. So let's use it to stretch them and ourselves.
Don’t get in the way in yourself here. I hear from many parents that they do not think they are creative and that they do not how to expand the game. You are a creative being in your beautiful physiological make up. You can make at least 100 different faces, an uncountable amount of sounds, you have feet to dance on and arms to wave, there are hats to be worn, and puppets to be brought to life. The simple fact that you are human means you are a creative orchestra the only thing holding you back are your beliefs. Create supportive beliefs such as “I am a delightful friend to my child and I believe what I bring to his/ her life is an opportunity for them to open up to new things.”
Once you find you are in that repetitious interaction and you have really been giving your child that activity, such as bounces, for some time. Maybe a few minutes or so consider adding one thing to the game that does not change the core motivation your child is seeking. We call this a peripheral variation. For example, if I am in a game of bounces I may start to sing a song, put a silly hat on, or give bounces to the left and right. There are other ways we can expand our child’s flexibility with in the game. We can invite them to physically and verbally participate as well. If we are in that same bounce game on the therapy ball I may create a control panel with fun buttons indicating what kind of ride my child can indicate they want. Have the control panel have a button for start bounce, big bounce and shaky bounces. Model the game to your child before each time that you vary your game and later invite them to bush the start button. Make fun engine sounds indicating your bouncing vehicle starting, reving up and slowing down. Invite your child to make these sounds too.
Any time your child indicates they are not open to a variation you want to give a good dose of control. So if your child goes to take off your hat then you can throw it across the room “Thanks for showing me, we don;t need this fun hat now maybe later!” This can apply to any object you bring into to vary the game. Remember a "no" for now is not a "no" for the rest of your session.
When we are stretching our kids we want to make sure they are motivated for the activity which may look like they are having some giggles or longer looks or clearer language or stronger gesturing. When you see your child is more interested in the game, then grab that hat or puppet again and try to bring it into the game. BRrng props in the room and use items from the shelf. We recommend hats, silly glasses, puppets, instruments, and all that you have to offer in your silly voices, expressions, dances, slapstick motions, and laughter!
Have fun, be silly, and flexible yourself. Enjoy expanding your child’s interests.
PS be sure to check out our awesome video and written blogs:http://blog.autismtreatmentcenter.org/
With fun and loving thoughts