Thursday, March 12, 2009

Eric and I Look for Mommy

Previously posted on Autism Games: Moving Together, where you will find a collection of games that are all based on Moving Together.

Eric and I Look for Mommy

Long ago, I worked with a three year old who had a diagnosis of autism. He was my first preschool student with ASD and I did not know how to get his attention--let alone engage him in any kind of language therapy.

He ignored me studiously and did not glance at my toys. He kept himself busy moving--pacing around my therapy room. He sometimes went to the door and cried and was more upset when I tried to console him. He ran away whenever I approached. But he looked at me when I said, You want Mommy.

So I picked him up, (flailing at first) and walked with him up and down the halls of the school where I worked, calling out, Mommy! Where are you? We would stop and look in each of the tiny windows in the doors to various classrooms and I would say Oh No! No mommy here!

It would be a few years before I hit upon the idea of keeping parents with me in the therapy room but this little boy might have set the seeds of that idea with his rapt attention to the task of finding his mom. Once he understood that he and I shared the goal of finding mommy, he was content to let me carry him around and he looked with me for his mom and soon he looked with me at everything, up and down the halls.

With this little boy, I created a moving together game that became our first game of every therapy session for months. I started each session with a marching game, saying March, March, March, Stop! If Eric looked right, I marched to the right. If he looked left, I turned left. Ready… Set… Go! I would say as I started from a stop. Run I would say as I ran. Stop I would say as I stopped again.

Our halls were full of interesting people, like babies from the daycare in their six pack stroller cart. Hi Babies! I would say. Hi Babies! Eric would repeat. Hi Marty! I would say as I walked past one of the other Speech Pathologist in the hall. Hi Marty! he would repeat. Hi Eric! she would answer.

I imagine that children have been learning to talk while being carried around by adults. They are a captive and happy audience to our chatter.

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