Monday, December 7, 2009

Life is Therapy--What's in Your Child's World?

New to the Life is Therapy series? Here's a quick blurb to tell you what it's about:

Sometimes we parents can get bogged down in the notion that the teaching of our children must be done by professionals. Parents of children with special needs are particularly vulnerable to this idea since children with special needs often have to learn and develop quite differently than children with typical needs. This series centers around the idea that learning can and does occur most effectively through everyday life experiences at home and out in the community--for children with both typical and special needs.

Back on November 23, we talked about entering your child's world. I showed a video of me trying to direct Jack's play with complete disregard for what he was doing at the moment. He ignored me. Then I decided to sing about what he was doing and we enjoyed a short interaction. You can see that post here.

When you first enter your child's world, it will be quite foreign. After all, you are an adult and you know that there is a set order to the world and a set way that you are supposed to behave (according to each person's culture that is). Try to put aside all your pre-conceived notions of how things are supposed to be and just watch your child.

When you watch you may see something like this.....

Jack has both a visual impairment and fine motor skill impairment. Jack is legally blind in his good right eye and has light perception only in his left eye. He is adapting to his visual impairment and lack of depth perception. Some of that adaptation results in not really looking at things. Instead of grabbing Smiley with the car, he just grabbed Smiley. He pulled him out of the car but did not notice as he tackled the next challenge of getting Smiley up onto the ramp. Jack was not born with seperated fingers on each hand and he is missing joints in his fingers so his grasp is different from a person with a typical grasp. So the above, simple, fun activity is challenging on a couple of fronts and what's that? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it is therapeutic.

You don't always have to set your kids up for a "Life is Therapy" skill advancing moment. When you watch, listen, and think, these oppurtunities often jump right out at you. BUT resist the urge to jump in and correct and tell your kiddo how to do things "correctly". See what happens your kiddo's way. In this case, Smiley fell off the top of the ramp but you never know. The kiddo's way may work out.

I just said, "Uh oh, Smiley!"

Jack repeated, "Uh oh."

We had a short conversation (speech therapy) at Jack's level of 1-4 word simple phrases and decided that we should try putting Smiley in his car and then down the ramp.

Jack got in some more fine motor and visual therapy first finding Smiley's car, then putting Smiley in, and trying to orient Smiley on the ramp. Of course, we engaged in speech therapy as we chatted and he asked for help as needed and I made suggestions when asked for help (help does not have to mean do it for me).

We finally got him oriented, Jack pulled on the "launch latch" and off Smiley went.

The toy says "Yay!" as it launches Smiley and then makes some other somewhat loud noises as Smiley exits the ramp so this was also a bit of sound desensitization therapy for Jack too.

In this shot, you can see how Jack looks forward to more occupational therapy, speech therapy, vision therapy, and sound desensitization therapy.

Sometimes when you enter your child's world, you find that they are already well on their way to creating learning and developing experiences. Your joining them can enhance the experience. Just remember that it's their experience and resist the urge to take over. Let your kiddo have fun. Find a way to join in and have fun too!

Other Life is Therapy Posts can be found at:
Introductory Post
Prepositions at the Park
Rainy Days
Getting Your Child's Attention
Relfecting on Where You've Been

Now it's your turn to participate. This is where we share our ideas and stories with one another. We're all in this together. Let's laugh together, motivate one another, and stimulate each others ideas. If you have a blog, create your own "life is therapy" post and link to the specific post in the Mr. Linky below. If you don't have a blog just leave a comment with your life is therapy story.


mommytoalot said...

That is a great way to get some speech and fine motor skills in as you've said. Legos are awesome as well.
Super cute pictures.

mommytoalot said...

I thought I'd join in today. I hope I did OK.

Marie said...

Thank you, Lisa! That was a great post. Everyone please be sure to see how Lisa creates a great "Life is Therapy" moment with different aged kiddos with different needs and has a lot of fun with a tasty result!

Rachel said...

Great post! It is so true - so much of their learning takes place in their own world, discovering it for themselves. It's so fascinating to sit back and watch it happen!

j said...

Yay for Smiley and Jack! The photos were wonderful.

I linked my post today to Life is Therapy. It's funny, my kids are so much older that it's hard to think along the lines of teachable moments. So much of our life is routine... does that make sense?

Anyway, it may not be exactly right for Life is Therapy, but it is what it is LOL!