....Quietly I watch my daughter. She is tumbling about the jungle gym when Ben, a rather boisterous boy, gruffly assigns her the duty of being the Co-Captain of his ship. Ashi suspiciously, but happily, accepts his bossy invitation to play.
|Ben assigning Ashi to the steering wheel|
Surrounding the 'ship' are islands and enemy vessels. The other 'mates' aboard the 'ship'
are commanded by the shouting, finger pointing, Captain Ben, "abandon ship! Everyone off! Hurry! Get more bombs!" Ashi does not disembark as she is ordered, but thankfully, Captain Ben seems to be okay with that.
|Ashi (in white) handing over the 'bombs'|
Ben hurls the the bombs from atop the mast, making booming,explosive noises as each one lands, destroying all of the encroaching villains. I, an innocent bystander, even have to dodge the 'bombs' myself! The crew defends their ship until all the one-eyed crooks are annihilated and the world is safe once again.
Then the sun is swallowed whole, the ship dissolves into the night, and the green and yellow jungle gym shimmers back into view. The ocean dries up too so we pour the rocks out of our shoes and laugh all the way home.
|Ashi and a new found friend|
All of this playtime has certainly made me think about how much Ashi has changed. She's made huge progress academically, and in her behavior and communication and all her motor skills, but when I was asked to write about something our autist had achieved lately, it occured to me what great strides Ashi has made in the social arena too.
For most years, our days in the park were never like the one described above. No, ours were long, sunscorching days of endless self-stimming with rocks. Having a myriad of sensory issues, it was out of necessity that Ashi wasn't social at the park or anywhere. We've always respected that about her and while we always had the door open for socializing, we never forced it on her. Letting it come about naturally and at her own pace has been the very best for her. She began to blossom about the age of six.
Now, at seven and a half, she has really branched out. Today, she seeks out friends, strikes up conversation, engages in play, takes on roles in pretend play, and even tolerates other children's behaviors, which would have been difficult before. I would call this an enormous achievement. My sweet, little, autist has been slowly emerging as the beautiful butterfly she's always been to me, but now for the world to see. Will she play like this tomorrow? Maybe, maybe not, but she is always flying forward; flittering here and there, but always flying flying forward.