The Final Week of DIR/Floortime Camp

Joshua started out the week working with Ben again, as a Floortime Player and Joshua connected quite easily.  While Joshua played on the spiral climber, Ben was right there, coming down after him.  Joshua did some parallel play with some other kids and was referencing not only the kids, but the adults interacting with him.  Ben made quite an impression on Joshua as the last day of camp, while sitting on the slide, Josh looked across the playground and saw Ben approaching him, following another child.  Joshua called out to Ben, “Hi, Ben!”, which amazed me as I had never heard him say “Hi” to someone before without prompting.

Joshua and Ben, getting ready to jump...Yikes!

Joshua trying to work himself down the slanted parallel bars.

Jan was matched with Joshua on Thursday, as Kevin wasn’t able to be there, and she noted that Joshua participated in an activity with another camper who also enjoyed the spinning playground toy.  She sat on the toy and Joshua and the Floortime players would spin her at Joshua’s direction.  Lilly would say “Faster” and the Players would check with Joshua who would say, “Faster” and they would all work together to spin Lilly, who loved it!  Joshua had a great time laughing along with Lilly as they played together.  It’s amazing hearing how he is so eager to get involved with other kids, more and more.

Jan helping Joshua climb up the wall to the slide.

Kevin, who was pared with Joshua on Tuesday and Wednesday, and Friday, noted that Joshua, aside from being a lot of fun, did more talking and while watching another child take apart a car, went over to join him.  This had happened while Josh had been laying down looking at a car he had and Kevin wisely moved Josh’s car slightly so he could see what the other child in the room was doing.

Kevin had so much fun with Joshua and mentioned that Friday, after Joshua had run his outside circuit, they had gone inside and Joshua tipped over a stroller to spin the wheels.  Kevin attempted to join in, but Joshua would not let him.  After 15 minutes of being present to Joshua, Kevin put his hand near the wheel and kept it there.  Joshua then guided Kevin’s hand to the wheel, inviting him to have a spin, too.  During this time, Kevin asked Rosemary White, Alek and Jeannette, why Joshua spins things and while they all joined in, Rosemary explained that Joshua seems to focus on spinning things in relationship to his eyes not working together.  He’s anchored, in a sense, to focusing on that activity and that is also related to his desire to jump off of things as he is tuned into gravity from where he is standing and when he jumps, even from a higher position (which scares us to death), he isn’t able to anticipate/predict where he lands so doesn’t tense up as most of us would do, thus, making him more relaxed, in a sense, and avoiding injury.  Most kids, as they prepare to land, would tense up and it leads to broken bones.  So, Joshua’s new prism glasses that he got this week, will help his eyes learn to work together, and as this happens, he may (hopefully) decrease this behavior (but I’m not going to bet on it and brace myself for trips to the ER).  I gave Kevin Joshua’s glasses for Friday, to see how he would do with them while being 100% supervised, but, alas, Joshua refused to wear them.  We’ll have to work with him bit by bit to help him get used to them.  (Since he mangled them within the first half hour of getting them from Costco, I think that would be most prudent, not to mention cost effective.)

Joshua trying on his new glasses, eating his snack with Kevin

It was so neat to see, throughout camp, how Joshua was getting in tune with his environment, the kids and other players.  Most autistic children are typically, in their own world.  The essence of the DIR/Floortime model is to “join the child in their world to bring them into ours”.  This was becoming more evident for Joshua with his camp experience. Friday morning, when met with another misty Summer morning, another child and Floortime Player remarked that the slide was wet.  Joshua, undeterred, went down the slide anyway, as per his routine, but referenced the other child and player, listening to their remarks.  After going down and getting his bottom wet, he went back up for another slide down.  Joshua, at the top of the slide, then looked at the slide he had just gone down and said, “It’s still wet.”  The other child and his Floortime Player, as well as Kevin and I, remarked that, “yes, it still was wet”, but Joshua decided to go down again, regardless.  If anything, he would serve his peers and sacrifice his bottom to dry off the slide (until Jeannette was alerted and came over to dry it with a towel).

Joshua and Michael taking turns on the slide with Kevin

As everyday was for Joshua, it was hard for him to leave.  He looked across the playground after most of the kids had gone home and saw Dylan, his Floortime Player from the first day and said to him, “Hi, Jackson!”  Jackson was the name of one of the other campers.  I said to Josh, “That’s not Jackson!  That’s Dylan!”  Josh kept calling him Jackson until I called him Jackson, and then Joshua said, “That’s Dylan!”.  He then got down from the slide and ran across the field.  I called after him and encouraged him to come back when he referenced me by looking back when he got to the end.  Of course, to ensure I keep up my exercise, he then proceeded to go over the barrier that was at the end of the field, to keep the kids from going up the embankment to the road above.  As I got there, adrenaline pumping wildly, I called out to him to “Stop!”  I was relieved to see he didn’t go up the embankment and had stopped after all, in the trees.  Whew!  We are making progress but have so much more to go!

Joshua seeking out fun and adventure!

We discovered, this last week of camp, that we could hire some of the Floortime Players to come into the home a few days a week.  Bryan and I are quite interested in this as it’s in the home that we truly need some direction and support.  Working with Joshua, while also running the affairs of  a family of 6, takes some juggling, and, I must admit, the housecleaning suffers as a result.  Additionally, there is also the opportunity to have Joshua attend some playgroups or Mini-camps during the school year.  I don’t think I will be able to swing that, given the afternoon activities of the family, and Bryan’s work schedule, in terms of driving Joshua to camp.  So, we are thinking that since we have four kids, we have a playgroup already built in and having a Floortime Player twice a week, would work better for us.  Besides, our family would really benefit from some suggestions as to how to help Joshua at home.  What’s really neat is the players would also record the sessions and bring the recordings back to consult with Rosemary and Alek.  I’m not sure how we will afford this, but we are invested in seeing how to make it work.  As it stands, right now, Joshua is set to start school on August 31st and will be going 4 full days in a contained classroom.  He is on a wait list to start OT at a facility that takes State Insurance, whereas he will attend once a week, most likely, in the morning.   I’m hoping it will be a more manageable schedule this school year and the bonus will be if we can not only get the services that would best serve Joshua, but somehow, have a little more time to put into keeping up with that housework!

Joshua clearly benefited from this camp experience, thanks to all the donors and prayer support,  and we are certainly wanting to make this an annual experience for him.  Perhaps we will be able to afford it, but perhaps we will make it an annual fundraiser, if folks are interested and able, given the economy. (Please let us know if you are interested.)  We are forever indebted to the 34 + donors, and to everyone, who has joined us on this journey and for making this summer camp possible for Joshua.  The progress he has gained and the  skills Bryan and I learned to help him in his development, are so valuable and we are so grateful beyond words.  Joshua will have this time to look back on and we will share with him how it was made possible by people who love him and care for him, whether they know him personally or not, because he is precious and made in God’s Image.  You have all added to the foundation of his life and his potential knows no bounds.  Thank you.  Be assured that we will keep you all in our prayers in thanksgiving to the Lord for His many blessings.

Joshua will have his share of struggle in life, but with support, he looks forward to a promising future ahead. Joshua called out, happily, as I put him in the car: "Good bye, everybody!" (See you next year!)



This entry was posted on Saturday, August 13th, 2011 at 5:15 pm and is filed under Autism Resources, Autism Treatment, General Autism Info. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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