Becky Damgaard
Son-Rise Program® Teacher,
Autism Treatment Center of America®
Being Creative in The Son-Rise Program Playroom
definition:the ability to make new things or think of new ideas

As I work with children with autism and their families, one of the most common beliefs I hear from parents, volunteers, family members and professionals is some version of “I’m not creative”. If being creative is as defined “the ability to make new things or think of new ideas” then we were born creative!

If you take time to observe an infant, they are making new things happen and thinking of new ideas all the time. They make a funny, raspberry noise, giggle for the first time, discover their fingers, shake a toy and then throw it, etc. If you watch a toddler, they use their imagination and what they have observed to create new ideas. I have been reading a book to my two year old called The Napping House … in the story, a granny sleeps on bed and a child sleeps on the granny and the dog sleeps on the child and the cat sleeps on the dog, the mouse sleeps on the cat and the flea sleeps on the mouse. I was aware of her taking Tupperware lids, placing magnetic animals on top of the lids and then layering them up in a tower. I wasn’t really paying too much attention to what she was doing because I was busy in the kitchen but then I heard her say “Where everyone is sleeping!” which was one of the lines to the story. She was re-creating the story with the lids and characters. She was being creative! Thinking of a new idea based on someone else’s idea, in this case the author of the book’s.

Some people believe that creativity is overrated and that it is complicated or hard to achieve. This is not necessarily so! If you add fresh herbs to what you are cooking, you are creative! If you put together separate items of clothes you have never worn together before, you are creative! If you imagine what a scene or a character looks like in a book you are reading, you are creative! Being creative starts with simplifying and taking creativity off the pedestal of being complicated and hard to achieve.

Here are some ways to think about and practice being creative!

  1. Believe you are creative! That being creative is fun and easy! That holding the “I am creative” perspective will allow me to be more dynamic and attractive to my child with autism and inspire them to step out of their comfort zone and connect more deeply to the people in their lives.

  1. Practice adding one new thing to everyday activities. Add a new ingredient to the next meal you prepare or cook an old favorite in a different way. Next time you hear your favorite song, make a up a new dance move or add some backing vocals or use your voice or body as a make-believe instrument to play along.
  1. Bring creativity to The Son-Rise Program playroom! The next three times your child looks at you, do a new action you have never done before! Next time you sing them their favorite song try singing it with a different accent or adding some new words. The next time you bring them something from the shelf, bring it down to them in a new way each time.
  1. Quick and simple is more important than sophisticated and innovative. The window of time you have to entertain your child may be limited due to their short attention span and propensity to be involved in their own world more than they are interacting with you.
  1. Bring fun activities to your next team meeting. If you are having a challenge being creative then the chances are that the other people who work with your child are too. Play a couple of games where you can spontaneously react and think on your feet. For example, try playing charades, or doing something completely new with a prop you’ve pulled out of a bag. Play an extra round of the game where you are not allowed to do anything “literal” with the prop … i.e. if you pull out a wooden spoon from the prop bag, don’t again pretend to stir soup but rather use it as a guitar or a hair brush.


One Response

  1. Babs Ratcliffe says:

    keep it coming, i love these snippets they spur me on and keep me focused. loving it.

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