Monday, May 4, 2009

Patterns at the Park

I had a fine evening at the park with Joy and Rose the other day. It had been a couple of weeks since the elements converged such that we could all go -- weather and absence of prior commitments on all sides. It was a different experience than the last trip!

Difference #1 - Rose rode her bike. Like, on the way there! When we went to the park to learn to ride, we loaded up the bike into the car and drove to the park. Now she can ride almost the whole way, and only has to walk her bike on one especially steep hill.

Difference #2 - Joy didn't dash. Last time we went, she wandered afield, and I had a big long run at one point, ending with a dramatic swoop whereby I caught her by the coat just as she was about to jump into the water in the ditch! This time, she spent the entire time in the gravel area.

Difference #3 - The gravel area didn't enter Joy's mouth. Last time, particularly near the end of our stay, I felt like I was digging gravel out of her mouth every time I turned around. This time? Not at all.

She did spend lots of time gravel-stimming, which felt very familiar. One new thing was shuffling her feet through the gravel on her way to the swings or play structure. I'm reminded of how last year she started the spring season being extremely stimmy at the park, not wanting to do anything else. Then over the course of the park season, she got gradually more interested in things other than the stimmies. Wondering if we're already seeing that pattern repeat.

Difference #4 - Joy wanted to play on both the big kid swings and the toddler swing. Last time she only wanted the toddler swing, though I tried to interest her in the big-kid swing, the kind with the flexible seat between two chains. She was having none of it, deliberately sliding off even before I could get her swinging. This time she gravitated toward the big-kid swing herself, got into position to hike herself up to sit on it, and then looked at me for help and signed "more" when she didn't quite make it! She went back to the swings several times, sometimes requesting "more" for my help, sometimes draping herself over the swing on her tummy and propelling herself. She even at one point tried to do the tummy-drape thing on the toddler swing, which didn't work quite so well. I liked seeing the experimenting, though. And the signing -- how glorious to see the signing.

Well, Rose would probably tell me (since they worked hard on defining patterns in kindergarten) that you can't call it a pattern until/unless it starts repeating. We shall see. Whatever else it was, though, it was a lovely evening at the park.


Anonymous said...

Very nice progress for Rose and Joy! Thanks so much for sharing.

I'm thinking in terms of the pattern of oral to hands and feet (her behavior with the gravel)....I don't know if I can convey a sensible understanding of my thoughts...but I'll try. (earning my nickname today)

I'm thinking of a developmental progression that is both natural and shows progress from intervention in children with diagnoses.

Also, in the same way that Ritardando is good, might Joy's giving herself sensory input also be considered good? That is, children naturally do this in their own timing and she has learned to do it herself (over someone providing the sensory input).

Leading to my question of calling her behavior 'stimming' and the negative implication of the word 'stimming'. Looks to me like Joy's play behavior is purposeful, meets a need within, and in a way that is better than passive sensory input.

A fine evening indeed.

Niksmom said...

Very insightful comment from BRatK. I see some of this with Nik when we go back to something he hasn't seen/done for a while...a sort of re-entry/adjustment/refamiliarization process. It tends to dissipate after a few times and he becomes engrossed in something new.

A lovely evening in the park is good. Here's to many more! :-)

JoyMama said...

MOST excellent comment, Barbara! I might want to reflect on "stimming" as the topic for a future post. Is OK?

I do think there's a line somehow between necessary/helpful self-provided sensory input, and the point at which those same actions get sort of caught in a loop that doesn't easily break. Shuffling through gravel to the swings = good stuff. Repeatedly grabbing handfuls of gravel and rubbing through them while clenching teeth and making an intense "eee" sound for long chunks of time, or pulling up entire sections of Lynda's lawn to fondle the nice stringy grass, or the whole hair-pulling thing? Might deserve a pejorative like "stimming." Will think further about the distinctions!

pixiemama said...

Rinse, lather, repeat, right?

A good time is a good time regardless.


datri said...

Ahhh, how wonderful! Would love to hear your take on "stimming".

Anonymous said...

sounds like a delight, one way or the other.

Mama Mara said...

Oh that horrible watery ditch! When Taz was little, the ditch was so much more interesting to him than the safe, boring swings and slides. I can just picture Joy getting that mischievous look on her face right before dashing toward the water. Weeeee!

I miss the days at the park, now that my boys say they are too old. Heck -- I'm not too old.

Elizabeth Channel said...

It is so fascinating how they change from year to year, and how seasonal activities remind us of these changes. I've had a similar experience at the ball park where my E doesn't run off so quickly...he's actually sort of "staying with the group." So big for us!