Week 2 of Camp: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday

Joshua’s Floortime Player Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday,  has been Melissa, who is on her second year of camp.  Joshua likes to call her “Daisy” for some reason.  (While saying bedtime prayers, Joshua thanked God for “Daisy” and now I know who he was referring to!)  Melissa and Alek have been working with Joshua to help him be able to express his ideas.  One way in which they have been doing that is when he wanted to jump on an inner tube, learning to take turns with two other boys.  Joshua needs to hold onto someone’s hands when he jumps on the inner tube.  He asked for Melissa to give him one hand, so she stuck one hand behind her back and gave him only one hand.  He got a bit frustrated until he was able to express “two hands, please”, whereupon Melissa then gave him two hands to hold, which was what he wanted in the first place.

Another activity Joshua engaged in Tuesday, was to play with a balloon pump to blow up balloons with another child.  They interacted for about 20 -30 minutes, I’m told, going back and forth with another Floortime Player, making the balloons make funny noises, blowing them up and letting them fly, while cracking up.  This was one of Joshua’s favorite activities in Occupational Therapy and I still need to find out where to find one of those things as his birthday is coming up on Friday.  Simple little things can be such a huge learning opportunities which help him to learn and communicate more.  These fun activities really do help him develop language as well as social skills, and I’m grateful.  And, after all, learning should be fun anyway, right?

Wednesday, Joshua played with Melissa again and at the Parent’s Meeting that evening, I saw video of Joshua in a few clips.  Rosemary White commented when Joshua was playing a hand game with her that you could tell he was thinking while engaging with her:  “What am I going to do to get Melissa to copy me?”  Joshua then went over to a group of other kids playing with balloons and picked up a balloon.  All the balloon pumps were occupied and he put the balloon down to go and look for a pump across the room.  Seeing none available, he picked up a stuffed monkey.  Melissa tried to keep him involved and pull him back into the group, asking if the Monkey was going to blow up the balloon.  He got overwhelmed by the activity and not finding what he wanted and laid down on the floor with the monkey.  Melissa then had to physically pick him up to try to bring him back into relationship. Eventually, he was able to join in, and, I believe, he was able to hold a balloon while another boy pumped it and they ended up having some semblance of some fun problem solving with the help of a Floortime player.

It was really interesting learning different insights into common behavior of the children suffering from autism at the meeting, and ideas as to how to not only engage with them, but to help bring them along in their development.  When Joshua and another boy were jumping into a pool of foam blocks, such a simple activity and the pacing so they were both taking turns helped Joshua and the other boy learn to tune into each other.  This, eventually, will help Joshua learn to be more socially aware.  It helps Joshua “see the whole picture and take his blinders off”, and broaden his repertoire.”

Joshua and Melissa interacting

Joshua doing some parallel play with a peer and his Floortime Player, Melissa

After attending the Parents Meeting Wednesday night, I was again, struck with what a great experience this is, not only for Joshua, but for Bryan and I, and the rest of the kids, to learn how to support Joshua in his development.  A relative simplistic view if the DIR/Floortime model (Developmental, Individualized and Relational) is with looking at autistic kids as being supported in their developmental stage and helping them to expand their “circle”.  I need to learn more about this model, but it is so natural.  Rosemary spoke of the “Circles of communication” and the importance of keeping the communication going, like playing tennis.  No matter how they respond, you “hit the ball back in anyway possible” and “go with the flow”, even if you are hitting the ball on the “wood of the racket”.  The importance of sharing the moment and demonstrating shared referencing around a common experience enables autistic kids to grow socially and expand their social skills.

I have felt like Joshua is in a long stage of toddler-hood, and I have to keep that in mind when my patience wears thin.  It is important, as Rosemary advised, to look at the intention behind the behavior (just as I would any of my other kids).  When it was time to leave on Wednesday, for example, Joshua looked at me intently and picked up some play bark and threw it at my chest.  I told him I didn’t like that and he can’t do that to Momma.  He then started to kick up the bark as we walked out of the play area.  Rosemary helped me see that it wasn’t an act of defiance but really Josh was telling me that he was having fun and didn’t want to leave.  So, acknowledging that feeling for him, giving him words, yet still having the boundaries of not throwing bark and reminding him that although he didn’t want to go (because he was having so much fun) he would be coming back tomorrow.  He is getting so much out of this experience and we are so grateful.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 29th, 2011 at 9:58 am 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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