Some of the cousins are here for a few days, so I have set myself the challenge of documenting a whole day of play. At breakfast we discussed that we had no ‘big plan’ for the day, no pressure to be anywhere at any particular time, and no visitors planned. So the day was for them to ‘potter’ – code in our household for (supported) choosing from all the toys, games, garden, crafts, baking that are available here at home all the time.
I say supported because as you can probably guess these kinds of days are not without their challenges! and although there is less pressure for Andrew & I because we are not putting demands on them, they have the potential to be very demanding in enabling negotiations, transitions, health & safety thinking, choosing together, compromise… all those wonderful skills we want to equip our children with and give them plenty of chances to practice. But its not a comfort zone day overall – and I’m already planning movie & popcorn calming down time for later – parent led!
There were no alarm clocks to wake us this morning… no need! A & L were up by 6!! Minecraft animations were put together by A, and Z joined in when he was up at 7. L read in bed. T had come into our bed in the night, but she was awake early and opted to watch some TV with D till breakfast. B was the last (except me!!) awake, but brought T & D down for breakfast – she’s great with them.
stop for breakfast!
After breakfast everyone was washed & dressed – quite a lengthy process.
It was a packed morning, with lots of separate activities going on in different parts of the house and garden. Animal figures & playmat, playing shops, being detectives, lego, monopoly, minecraft animation, minecraft mini-games, wii, craft, trampoline, running races, visiting chickens and collecting eggs, reading, and gardening!
“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.”
C E Schaefer
Some help was needed in the transitions between activities, and the getting going of games. There was a need for some negotiation during monopoly when there were disagreements. B didn’t stay and finish the game, but enjoyed going out & helping Andrew continue clearing a corner of the garden where we hope to store logs. She excitedly came to show me this spade they had uncovered! Not the first gardening tools we have found hidden in undergrowth…
D & T needed encouragement and instructions when they visited the chickens and collected eggs but they had a lovely time together. Most of the play happened in self-selecting small groups, mostly A, L & Z and D with T. Pretty much dividing themselves by age group. And with B outside with Andrew, she didn’t naturally join a group when she did come in, and ended up very happily crafting in the kitchen while Andrew cooked soup for lunch.
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. George Bernard Shaw
stop for lunch!
The afternoon began in fits and starts, a quick return to lego for D & T that quickly became D joining Z on a wii game & T feeling left out. Very quickly solved by a suggestion of showing L her barbies and barbie stable which B briefly helped set up before heading out with Andrew. It wasn’t long lived, L went back to learning minecraft animation with A and T brought DS games downstairs in the same room as the wii game – not sure her backseat driving was appreciated all the time!
Colouring and drawing was my suggestion to smooth the transition off screens! In fact the animal figures came out again and a train track was built to bring people on safari! Much better idea!
The older group was a definite group again by later afternoon. They enjoyed the garden again together, playing made up games on the trampoline.
One thing that you need to understand is how important PLAY is for the thinking, language, emotional, problem solving and creative skills development of children with autism. So many people underestimate the importance of PLAY… (http://www.connecttherapy.com/blog/therapy-strategies/importance-of-play-in-children-with-autism/)
When they came in again they each found their own quiet spot, L & A both reading, Z setting up a lego game, and colouring with me. By then D & T were upstairs cleaning barbie ponies in the bathroom! Which of course was great fun, and of course needed a little input from me to keep it manageable. Almost as soon as that was begun it was over, but the floor of the sitting room had been tidied just in time, and I had got out a few games thinking ideas might be helpful as we got more tired and nearer to tea. As I began to prepare for tea it was definitely noisy silly time again, with much racing around, lots of play dialogue in loud voices (& of course some set to music by T, she seems to often sing her dialogues or inner thoughts as she plays).
stop for tea!
Good, and hilarious game of I spy altogether as we ate – a good distraction for some.
Lots of laughter, and time to unwind…
Stories – and the good thing about children staying with us is of course I get to read lots more! – prayers – tucking in… and then (eventually) all to sleep…