Encouraging language without expectations #autism #play

This week,  Little Star has had a little word explosion. For her 😊 She has been isming a lot with the volunteers,  but incredibly interactive with me. I think she is rebuilding and building the core trust relationships with the volunteers… Wanting them to join her all the time, to take joy in her isms.

Personally,  for me it has been an epiphany. How wonderfully our children take care of themselves, making sure the volunteers are really present and there for her,  reminding them that,  “hey,  this is me too,  the me who needs space,  who needs the comfort of my isms”. For the volunteers who have been getting lots of interaction from her to take a step back,  for those who have been eager for interaction to relax and learn to take pleasure in the now,  for the new to have time to adjust slowly.

Today, we spent our Playroom time with pretend play.  A very relaxed and fun session filled with play food,  cutlery,  bowls and dolls.

Initially,  we were just identifying vegetables to put in a pot. Little Star is still verbal communication Stage 1, so I don’t expect her to name the vegetables. In Son-rise there is this saying “Want, don’t expect”. It means we want the world for our kids,  but we do not expect them to deliver it to us. It is a deep lesson that has taken much time to digest, but now that I have comprehended it much more fully,  Little Star is saying more. Wanting Little Star to say a certain word, but not expecting her to say it, has opened up so many ways for me to encourage language. Cutting out the expectations equals cutting out fear, frustration, disappointment or feelings of failure, which in turn enable me to put so much more in the effort. I model the words constantly; I pause for a long time; sing them, whisper them; tap them out; emote them,  and request words in as many ways I can think of, exaggerate,  cheer… Hahha. In other words being as Son-risey as possible. And it works! She says a lot more. Not every time,  but because am not expecting her to say those words,  it doesn’t matter! We keep going and have fun with it 😊

So our activity was putting vegetables in a pot,  and I model the words, and also ask her to choose a vegetable to put in. Then we each got our own spoons and stir the pots and bowls,  then pretend to eat them.

Initially just ourselves, then because Little Star was still participating and interacting with me in the activity,  I began introducing dolls to feed in the game. The first set of baby dolls were ignored. Now in the past I would have stopped here and think hmm, maybe she doesn’t want to play with dolls.

But armed with the want,  not expect mentality, I bring down other dolls for her and model feeding them (with feeling). Little Star refused the second set as well, but third time lucky! She happily feeds these barbie like dolls πŸ’ƒ

During the game, she said things like β€œI eat”,  β€œdrink”, “doll”. She also picked out ingredients for the play soup when requested, like corn, onion and cabbage, from a choice of 2. She participated in the play actively and enjoyed it. 

So we are really getting there with our Interactive Attention Span goal,  where the child interacts around symbolic or imaginative play.

The next time we have an extended play session, am going to explore making cars from toilet paper tubes with Little Star  and have her little Wiggles take rides on them (she has a bunch of colourful rubber people that she likes to pretend are The Wiggles). We could do a lot of waving hi and bye stuff with that,  I think! Not to mention build on the pretend play goal,  and do an art and craft activity together. Play therapy is lots of fun πŸ’œ

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