FROM BECKY: We have a beautiful four year old boy here at The Autism Treatment Center of America this week. His amazing family have come all the way from Vancouver, Canada to do an intensive program.
This morning, I had the pleasure of observing this boy’s Father playing with him in The Son-Rise Program playroom. During the 15 minutes that I watched this boy and his Father, he was mostly engaged in a game of drawing and writing different words and pictures on paper. At times he would be exclusive as he did this for a few seconds at a time but was mostly talking to his Father, taking his Dad’s hand to have him draw different things and also paying attention to what his Dad was drawing.
What was missing from this activity was a deep level of connection, two people really focusing in on each other in a strongly interactive and personal way. If your child likes to draw with you and is including you in this activity but is not really looking or connecting to you with a depth of quality and is more absorbed in the drawing than relating to you, here are some ways you can help them work that social muscle.
1) Build yourself into the activity.
Make yourself more animated and something that your child can focus in on as you draw. For example, if you are drawing an apple, pretend to take a bite of that apple and exclaim, “It’s delicious!”. Stand up with your marker and back across then room, build up anticipation as you come in slowly to draw some fireworks. Try drawing a funny face and then pulling the same face yourself for your child in an entertaining way. This will help bring the attention on to people as opposed to you being a vessel with which to draw for your child.
2) Ask for eye contact!
When your child is motivated to have you draw the next thing, request them to look in your eyes so that you know they are talking to you and not the paper.
3) Help them participate in a physical way.
Try asking them to pick the next color to draw with or flying to the shelf with you to get the next piece of paper.
4) Position yourself, opposite them and slightly lower then their eye level if you can.
Give them a bit of distance as versus being next to them. behind them or really close to them.
All of these ideas will help your child to look at you more, motivate them lengthen their interactive attention span, inspire them be more invested in connecting to you and to relating to people in a deeper, richer way.