Play Time!

Like many children with Autism, the Monster has difficulties with playing with other children.

The problem isn’t necessarily a matter of his want to play with other kids – it’s his ability to communicate the want to do it and then to sustain the interactions.  He’s had a social goal in this past year’s IEP of play with other children, but most of the time, this has required adult interaction to keep him involved in a game of any sort.

But there are times where it’s easier for him, clearly.

As those of you who’ve followed the twitter feed (@DadEnoughBlog) or the blog’s Facebook page saw this weekend, the wife picked up a “crash pad” from another local parent.  The Monster uses one when he’s at gymnastics, and it seems to be good therapeutically for him.  The other parent only wanted a fraction of what they cost new, so it was a good deal and so she decided to buy it.

The Monster and R playing with the crash pad in Monster's roomAnd of course, when I hauled it up to his room this morning, both of them spent about a half hour rolling around on it and jumping on it.  But then other things beckoned – like the beautiful weather outside – and so we took a break from things for them to go outside and be little demons under the beautiful blue skies.

So, fast forward through a few trips to the potty with R, and a snack break, and then the Monster disappeared upstairs for a bit.  I could hear him flump onto the crash mat, and then after a few minutes, he started calling for R.  “R, come and play!” “R, where are you?”  “Play with R!”

“Do you want R to come play with you on the crash pad?” I yelled upstairs.

“YES!  R come play on the crash pad!”

(And yes, it took some bribery to get R to go up there. Not because R doesn’t like to play with his brother, but because R was being a little couch potato and was glued to “Daniel Tiger”.  Stupid addictive PBS shows…)

But this is a trend.  There are things where the Monster’s happy to initiate play – even parallel play – and times where he’s happy to join in.  Like… last weekend, we were at synagogue and he saw a couple of kids that he’s familiar with chasing each other around.  Before we knew what had happened, he was off and running after them too… and spent about an hour playing with them in one fashion or another.

I can’t say that I think it’s really social interaction like we’d want, since it’s still usually more parallel than constructively engaged, but… it’s a very good development of late.

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