Autism Hope in Action Conference: 1/30 San Francisco
Chantal Sicile-Kira on the Psychology Today Blog

SacBee Online On UC Davis MIND Institute and Play

UC Davis MIND Read the full article, At UC Davis MIND Institute, learning can be child's play for autistic at Sacramento Bee Online.

...Four years ago, when her older son Josiah was 2 years old and diagnosed with autism, her reaction was more emotional.

"I remember feeling, 'I don't know my child,' " she said, taking a deep breath.

"When you have a baby, and it has all its toes, and it's apparent to everyone that it's normal, you start to dream for the child," she said, raising a tissue to the corner of her eye. "But when you get a diagnosis with autism, you have to let go of all those dreams. … You don't know if the child will talk, get a job, have a friend. You have to let go of everything."

Now, every time her sons learn a new skill, she said she's filled with pride. "But you still cry..."



I found out by accident that there is a lot of truth in this. In the very beginning I would lay on the floor beside Ben and mimic his play, parallel play. He had no interest in what I was doing, but I kept at it. One day there was a long empty wrapping paper tube on the floor with a matchbox car. Ben was still in the wheel phase of his autism, anything with wheels, spin, spin, spin. I took the toy car and rolled it down the tube and acted all excited. Ben watched as I repeated it over and over. Then he wanted to try it. Car disappears, then reappears, magic, he loved it. We connected and it was locked in, he recognized me.

I read where they (MIND) recommends at least 5 hours a week of parent involvement and Im sure that beats nothing but we did at least 5 hours a day. Hard work but we were rewarded. At first I felt stupid just playing all by myself, wanting him to interact. This was not something that happened overnight, it took forever, or so it seemed. We just had to keep at it. What else could we do, it's not like we were going to leave him in a pack and play we knew we needed to work that connection. The therapist were working on him at the same time, they had their stuff to do we had ours. We were looking for that eye contact, that hand reaching out to us to hand us a broke toy to fix or to laugh with us.

I guess we were fortunate he was so curious and had such an attachment to us prior to his regression.

All the while we also worked to bring his immune system up, to heal his sick body, as he got well he began to find us, right there beside him, he didnt have to look far.

Now I get irritated sometimes because he seems to always be under my feet, Erica calls him "daddy's little shadow" We still play together every day for maybe 3-5 hours each day, first thing in the morning, every morning for the past few months he says, "Good morning daddy, wanna play a game?" and we do.

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