Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Life of A

One of the traits autistic individuals have is that they lack imagination. In children, this is one of the red flags. Often they mimic, but they have difficulty creating their own play scenes.

Little A fell into that category, and perhaps still does. But that doesn't mean he will remain in that box. Perhaps he is maturing emotionally, perhaps we're doing something right as parents and teachers, but recently he has been more imaginative.

Since he is non-verbal, he can't easily express what is on his mind, but we see it in his play.

Over Easter break, he watched certain parts of Ang Lee's film "Life of Pi" several times. He loves animals and water, and often takes toys into the pool and tub.

I haven't seen the movie in full, though I have read the book, so I was surprised when one day I peeked in on Little A in the tub and saw the bathroom floor covered in water.

As I watched, he filled his plastic bucket carefully, carried it to the edge of the tub, and tipped the water onto the floor. A tiger and several animals floated in the tub. The Au Pair rushed in and said, "You are not Pi!" and came back with a mop.

Apparently there is a scene when the lifeboat needs bailing out, and the main character does this with a bucket. So this was Little A's recreation of the scene. He has also tried, but failed, to get the cat into the tub with him, since he doesn't have a real live tiger.

Then last weekend, he set up his train set - the tunnel is his favorite - and a few days later asked me to help build some of his farm set. He also took out the Sesame Street building that is a modern version of one I had as a child. (Sadly, my aunt and cousins never returned the toys we lent them.) I looked into his room and saw that he had created his own scene. Certainly it wasn't one I'd ever seen in any of his books or shows.

He plays with this little diorama, but is careful to put the toys back in their places, instead of packing away. For now, this is his play land. It might not be what other almost-seven-year olds do, but my eight and a half year old typical godson was playing with the same toys on his last visit, so I don't think Little A is stuck in an earlier developmental play stage. Now to get some dialogue going into the next play scenes. 

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