25th June 2012 2:37 pm
Today hasn’t been a bad day for entertaining the kids. We've done some sticking, cutting, painting, creating party decorations, making party hats and tipping glitter over every surface, wall and floor of the house! Well, actually - correction - hubby and I have done these things while the children keep their distance and watch us crazy parents from the corner of their eye! You see, this is the way it is with autism a lot of the time. It’s something that’s taken a while to get used to, when your kids don’t want to play with you.
We’ve never had the opportunity to interact with them very much, 99.9% of the time if we sit down and start to play one of two things will occur. Either A - they will get up and walk away or B - all hell will unleash on you as you have touched their toy! (And in Jesse’s case there is an option C where she eats it!) This would break our hearts on a regular basis. Everyone wants to sit down and play tea parties or garages, to paint with their child or make birthday cards for the grandparents. This doesn’t happen in most cases with our children. Cody doesn’t want you to play with his toys as he doesn’t like them moved from their positions. Even if you didn’t realise they were in a specific position, you take your life into your own hands by touching anything! He has only recently started imaginative play, he will act out ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ episodes or films he has seen. He likes singing and dancing but none of these things are to include you!
After a lot of familiarisation, Cody will do "messy play" with you. He likes to get the paints and sprinkles out but he takes messy play very literally, inevitably getting every exposed area covered in paint, shaving foam and glitter. We don’t mind, we're not sticklers about cleanliness where play is concerned - get as dirty as you like as long as you have fun! We’re just glad he'll get involved, whereas Jesse doesn’t want to be involved in anything messy, thank you very much!. She will quite literally scream if you point a paint brush in her direction. We've even tried to play with icing sugar as she has a soft spot for all things tasty but she still gave the play table a wide berth that day! It’s safe to say she’s not a fan, which makes interacting and playing with her even harder than Cody. At least we have the safety net of messy play to fall back on to interact with him but Jesse finds it difficult to play with things. She has no understanding of how you "play" with a doll, she will chew it, manipulate it or swing it around by the hair. If she brings you a book, she doesn’t want you to read it to her or point out the animals with an amusing duck noise. Instead, she wants to flip through the pages at high speed and chew it. She will sometimes lie on the floor as the Thomas trains go around their track and lick each train as it passes. About the only thing that Jesse will interact with you on is nursery rhymes. She loves you singing to her but sadly she can’t join in as she has no speech capability at the moment. She’ll adoringly watch you doing the actions but she won’t do them, you have to do them while she watches and this can get a little tiresome after 45 minutes of Incey-Wincey spider! I’d give anything to hear her sing just once.
However, you adapt very quickly and you mustn’t get disheartened. We have started to quietly play alongside them and occasionally you will catch them watching you and taking it all in. Today, we sat cutting out strips to make paper chains and after about 5 minutes of watching, Cody came over. He picked up one of the strips and started to bend and shape it. He watched me sticking them down and lent across to pat it in to place. I made a hat and though Cody wasn’t involved in the making of it, he proudly walked around the house sporting his crown for a good half an hour.
Most parents get to play with their children, some parents get bored quickly and some even find it a chore but we are happy when our kids even stay in the same room as us. You can’t take it personally if they feel you are in their space, they will move but for that one moment of side by side playing, it’s worth being the crazy parent every now and again!