As I mentioned in my previous post, resources for autism in my area are all quite limited and wait times are long. So we do our own brand of homemade Autism therapy and for the purpose of socialization we attend a local play group 3 times a week. Sometimes less, but we aim for 3.
I've taken both of my older children to local drop-in centers when they were younger so that part isn't new to me. However taking an autistic girl to a drop-in play group is an exercise in patience and humility. First there was the issue of finding one she would enjoy (and me too). The one both my older two kids attended wasn't right for my little girl. Something about the layout, kitchen set up and overall structure was the wrong fit for us. She didn't feel comfortable and neither did I. The attendance of that group also leaned heavily on nannies and while they were all nice enough, the mom connection just wasn't there.
|Not feeling it|
I also discovered that if the space is too small and feels too claustrophobic, Sophie won't even attempt to engage and will instead hover by the door. So two more centers were rejected for that reason.
But then a good friend of mine recommended a play group just outside of our neighborhood that I instantly knew would work. It is located in a former school, one classroom houses the spacious and colorful toy room (not that Sophie cares for toys, the bright rug is probably more interesting to her) and across the hallway is the gym filled with ride on toys and a little playhouse with a slide which she does enjoy. And, probably the best part is that in between these two rooms is a small lobby with 2 leather couches which we can retreat to when she needs a break.
And so we went. Some days she is in a more playful mood than on others but in general she does very well. She is happy from the moment we pull into the parking lot. She smiles, she rolls on the rug, she looks at trees through the large window, she listens to songs... She is having fun in her unique Sophie way. Because she is quite delayed in her gross motor skills I do have to help her with climbing and sliding and usually have to pick her up a lot (while having her baby brother strapped to my chest most likely). And sometimes she falls down and since she can't get up off the floor I have to scoop her up. But even though it's probably so much more difficult for her to participate because of autism and spd and motor delays I'm so proud of her for trying and being her usual smiley self as she does. She is pretty awesome.
There is one thing though that my little girl is really, really good at. She is a champion at snack time. She can easily work through 5 helpings of the familiar toddler fare of diced fruit and crackers/dry cereal, casually picking off her neighbours' plates if I don't refill hers fast enough. Since she is on the GF/CF diet for now, I bring my own crackers and just take the fruit. The other reason I bring my own is because frankly it's a bit embarrassing to keep going back for refills. She is always the last one sitting at the table and with panther-like reflexes can spot a halfheartedly attended plate two tables away. The girl sure loves her snack time.
Did someone not finish their food?