In our home, we play differently.
I sit, with Miss 7 (non verbal, Autistic) on the floor and we throw a bucket of toys across the floor, one toy at a time.
Then, we reposition ourselves at the end of where the pile lands and we begin again. We move from one end of the house to the other, sometimes turning corners, sometimes rearranging furniture.
To the outsider, it appears redundant. I've heard experts and educators say "Can you believe some parents just let their children play how they want to? How will they survive in the real world? They need to be teaching them functional play.."
I bought into that for the first few years of my daughter's life. I panicked. I stressed. I felt out of my depth, like I was never doing enough or the right thing. I felt inadequate.
It disconnected me from her. Completely.
"I have no idea what to do with her" I would say. "How can I parent her? I can't keep up with the latest therapies and studies and information.."
As a result of my fear and disconnection as her Mother, I pulled her into the unstable energy I took with me, everywhere we went.
She felt unsafe. She felt disconnected. Abandoned. Alone.
When all was lost and I was brought to my knees, I knew I had to start again. I had to return to my most primal form of parenting. Because when I reconnected with what was most important to me as her Mother, it was being connected to her. Having a relationship. Knowing and understanding her.
I sat, and I observed. I allowed her to be. To just be.
And now, this is how we play. .
You won't hear much talking. But you should hear our laughter. You should see the way she looks at me. Lovingly, longingly. .
She trusts me. She sees that I see her. As whole, complete and adequate. The same way I see myself.
A child, no matter their challenges or diagnosis, will never make gains in any therapy where there is uncertainty, fear, distrust.
Our children KNOW when we are attempting to fix and change them. They know when we, and others feel they are not enough, not okay, not normal.
First, we connect with our children. We do this by not only accepting who they are, how they play, what they prefer, but by embracing it.
ALL OF IT. ALL OF THEM.
Return to your instincts. Trust your intuition about your child. Their diagnosis does not take this away, the thoughts and opinions of those who assess them and profess to know what's best for them by their label is often what disconnects us.
YOU are the expert on your child. BUT you must be taught by them. Allow them to lead you.
Allow others to help, to suggest, to recommend..
But trust your gut. And LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD. Watch your child.
Are they happy?
Understand both your freedom and responsibility to say NO. Respect your child's RIGHT to say NO.
To say NO to any therapy, therapist and approach that seeks to correct parts of your child that do not require correction.
Tap into your intuition to know the difference.
Therapy should assist, link strengths, build upon present qualities, make life easier, happier.
It should respect our children, hear them, see them.
It should inform us, assist us, hear us and see us as parents.
Not disempower us, disconnect us, cause us to question our intuition.
When I sit with my darling, throwing toys across the floor, we are kicking serious goals.
We are turn taking, engaging with our eyes and faces and bodies, there is so much affection, love and adoration.
She uses key signs to instruct, to request.
She is trusting me enough to invite me into her space.
She seeks me out, takes my hand and leads me to play. She leads.
Without connection, trust, acceptance and embracing who our children are, completely, there is no therapy in the world adequate enough for our children.