Use What Your Child Currently Loves To Do As A Way To Help Them Play With You!

By Brandi Davis-Son-Rise Program® Senior Child Facilitator

I would love to share with all of you how I helped our newest friend play with me yesterday! He is 7-years-old, on the Autism spectrum, and he has a laugh that inspires many giggles! Now, when I came into the room to play with him for the first time, he looked up at me and then quickly back down at his cars on the floor. He carefully examined each wheel on his toy truck. He stared intently inside the windows on his blue double-decker bus. He carefully turned the propeller on the front of his plane while sometimes saying, “I can’t fix the plane.”

Because he showed me that he was in a Red Light, I used our Son-Rise Program technique of joining him in his repetitious activity. This was my way to bond with him and I did so by doing those same actions with my own cars. I joyfully turned my own truck wheels. I looked into my car windows with wonder and curiosity. I became the best car inspector in town and there was nothing more that I wanted to do!

After joining him in his repetitious activity for 1 hour, this sweet boy gave me a Green Light. He looked into my eyes with a big smile on his face, giggled and then said, “We can’t fix the plane!”

He let me know that he was ready to play, so I took a fun action and used what he was motivated for in order to start a game! I picked up the airplane, pretended that my bowling pin was a hammer, banged on the side of it and then playfully threw my hands in the air while saying, “You’re right! I can’t fix this airplane!” My movements and my facial expressions were animated as I did this! Then, I picked up the truck, pretended that it would not roll across the floor, slapped my hand against my knee and said, “I can’t fix the truck either! I just can’t do it!”

This quiet little boy who barely looked up at me for 1 hour was now belly laughing with a red face! For 15 minutes straight I tried to fix puppets, instruments, therapy balls, and figurines. You name it, and I tried to fix it! I simply paid attention to what he currently loved to do and because of that, our interaction was rich, meaningful and lots of fun!

Here are three things to remember when you begin a game with  your child! 

  • Join your child when they give you a Red Light as a way to bond with them.
  • Pay attention to what your child is doing and is motivated for during their Red Light.
  • Use one of your child’s current motivations when they give you a Green Light, and show you that they are ready to interact. My friend’s motivations were pretending to fix cars and then saying, “I can’t fix it,” so I used that to start a game.

I am excited for you to discover what your child’s motivations will be today!