This post has been swirling around in my head for awhile now because it's something that has always stood out for as long as I have been watching Colin "play". While Chris and I may have brought it up a few times here and there, I think it's generally one of those things that we probably thought of, but didn't shed too much light on until we went to the behavior seminar a few months back.
When you watch most children "play", there is typically a purpose to the things that they do. When they are willing to play independently, they often move around the room finding different things and spending some time on those. They may bring you a toy and ask you to participate in what they are doing. For example, when Kailey is playing on her own, she often moves around taking care of her babies, spending some time in their kitchen, reading books, trying to put something together, etc.
While Colin does do these things, it doesn't often last as long. Instead of the purposeful play, we often find him playing with his Mickey and Minnie dolls "dangling" or trying to put them into a bin or box or flipping through pages in a book. Sometimes he is reading the book, but other times I think he is just flipping through the pages for the sensory input he gets as the pages move against his fingers.
|Mickey and Minnie are being put on the chair and then being spun on the chair.|
|While he started out moving the beads on their tracks and spinning the other blocks, he eventually started taking the baby and trying to fit it into different holes or in between tracks.|
When we went to the behavior session, the doctor said that a lot of times, kids with Down Syndrome don't always know how to structure play by themselves or are "bored" in the sense that they aren't sure what to do or how to start.
|This picture was taken shortly after Colin sorted through the "stuffed animal" bin and took out the dog and was playing with that giving it hugs and telling me about it.|
Generally the things that Colin doesn't have trouble playing have to do with the physical activities like anything sports related or "wrestling" with his Daddy or Kailey. While his attention span isn't always long enough to complete a task, he has no problems initiating play with any sports equipment. For example, yesterday at the Special Olympics Young Athlete Program, Colin moved from station to station playing the correct way (just would move on quickly to the next activity).
This has also stood out to me when we are in a "play" date sort of scenario because Colin is often content to play by himself. I get excited when I see him initiate or get involved in activities with other kids because he often needs help doing so and then if in that situation, seems shy or uninterested. Now, Kailey will do the same thing in social settings depending on the group, so I know that it is partly the age. I asked Colin's teacher last week in his communication notebook how his social play has been at school and she says that it is progressing in groups of 2-3 with help. She also included a few notes on his daily sheet that told us how he played a certain activity with different friends.
There are lots of times that Colin is just like any other kid when it comes to playing, but to us, the differences do stand out and show us what he needs help with. For instance, he has all of these new blocks from Christmas, but it's not something he would initiate on his own, other then to dump out the bin so they go all over the place. He needs help organizing the activity to build something.
We don't stress too much over this because it's just something we have to work on with him and that's ok, but it's interesting to me that this is a skill that needs assistance with as well. We do see improvements with time so another reason I'm grateful that he is in preschool!
|Waiting at IHOP for lunch.|