I wanted to write about our Sonrise approach much earlier, because I want to share my experiences. But it had to wait until now, because only now I feel things are really shaping up.
Here’s a bit of our reality at this moment.
You can see us playing in Pelles bedroom almost every day, for half an hour or longer, until he wants to go downstairs (and after I tried to tease him into one more game).
I started low profile (after initially putting far too much pressure on the whole process), not every day, just as long as Pelle wanted it. But now we’re both much more accustomed to the new routine in our lives and we can delve in deeper. So the hours spend playing are longer and I’m planning to do it every day, except for Saturdays, because I now see so much benefits from this joyful way of being together.
Pelle is not a typical autistic kid in the sense that he lives in his own world. He will talk to you if you’re an adult and wants to connect with you by sharing his interests. He talks really well and sees you in the eye. People call him sweet, and he really is. He’s always joyful and smiling. But he does not play with other children or has many interactions with them. (He’s doing fine at school, his classmates just take him the way he is and I’m very grateful for that.).
My main goal is to learn him how to play and love it. To let him feel the fun and explore his possibilities. Learn him more skills, so he will be able to play with other children some day.
At the moment I’m practicing pretend play with him. Since he likes to be chased, I’m a policeman, wanting to lock him up, or a lion, wanting to eat him. Or I play with a puppet who wants to climb the towers he loves to build, or an old lady who opens the door when he comes to sing for SintMaarten (a Dutch feast on Thursday where the children walk with their lanterns and collect candy). Since I also would love to see him to play a game with cards (like memory) we do funny things with them. The apples, pears and other images on the game from the hungry caterpillar are devoured by us. Afterwards, we’re having a little belly ache.
So here we are, both learning. For me it's about setting goals and working with them while I tune into his world. I’m coming to grips with it more and more and it feels like I can now reap what I sowed the last couple of months. I can take our play one step further and introduce new elements.
I’m dreaming about dressing up and more elaborate role-play. Of him being really concentrated for a long time. Those days will come. Because one of the things I discovered is that my boy is a fast learner. I often have the feeling that I only have to touch his inner abilities and they are growing. Sometimes it feels like magic.
And I’m not the only wizard in our house. Every Friday, Christa comes to play with him. She’s an apprentice from a college nearby and is learning to become a player. It was lovely to see him curled up into her arms as they were reading a book, the other day. I’m so pleased she’s here to help us. I’m going to search for one more player, so Pelle has another different input. The fun has only just begun.
I leave you with two scenes from the diningtable. He's demonstating his foldingskills.