If you read yesterday's comments, Karen from Solodialogue pretty much stole my thunder (!) and summed up how I feel on this issue. But since I'm rarely at a loss for words, I'm fairly certain I can add a couple of things to her point.
Our speech therapist is of the opinion that ABA has removed the joy of simple play for Lily. While she is totally aware that the Bird has motor planning issues that impair her ability to play, she still thinks that ABA has turned play into a series of tasks for Lily to just get through so that she can then engage in "real" play - aka, electronics.
But here's the problem - this opinion makes the assumption that Lily would know what to do when presented with some objects of simple play. That she would understand what to do with the toy and would understand that playing with that particular toy is fun.
In other words, Lily has to learn that play is fun. And in order to learn that play is fun, she must be taught.
Take music for example: Most kids do not think learning the piano is fun, especially in the beginning. Much of what they are learning initially is just stuff you have to get through to get to the fun. Scales. Hand position. Foot position. Memorization of key locations. You've got to play a lot of Chopsticks before you can master Beethoven.
Or sports: I'm going to assume that most high school football players don't think that two-a-days and strength and conditioning work is all that much fun. But I bet that playing on Friday nights in front of a huge cheering crowd is pretty fun.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
Some things, even some of the things we most enjoy, are things that we had to learn we liked. We had to learn it was fun.
Lily is the same as any other kiddo in that regard.
But where she differs is that much of play doesn't come naturally to her so it's a little more difficult for her to understand the fun. And takes a little more teaching time. In other words, she needs more Chopsticks time before Carnegie Hall or more strength and conditioning before the Friday night game.
But she'll get there.
It's hard to teach what just comes naturally to many children.
When my big girls were Lily's age, I could hand them each a big chunk of play-doh, a rolling pin, and some cookie cutters and they would go to town for hours. I never really sat down and demonstrated what to do. They were making clay cookies, decorating them with fake sprinkles and running a bakery, all without my "teaching" them a thing.
Not so with Lily.
I have to sit at the table with her. I have to show her how to pound the dough. How to roll snakes. How to use the rolling pin or the little wiggly rollers that make designs in the clay. How to make shapes with the cookie cutters. I have to show her how she can "hide" little plastic bugs in the dough and then "find" them. I have to demonstrate how to put the dough in the extruder thing and squeeze it out like spaghetti. And I have to be very careful of how much "hand over hand" work I do with her because... let's just say she's not always open to my help. And of course, play-doh will be sampled at least ten times. Even though she knows it doesn't taste good, she still keeps checking!
And sometimes, it takes me longer to get out all the supplies than the actual playtime lasts.
So we'll keep trying.
And we'll still limit iPad time, especially as a reward for play. Instead, after a good play session, I'm turning on the TV to play a couple of youtube videos that I choose and Lily can't fast forward, rewind or search since it's on the big TV and I have the remote. It's still electronic but at least I'm in charge. She can dance around, hop up and down, and stim all she wants for a little while, then we move on to something else.
Bottom line? Lily needs to learn that play is fun. And the only way she's going to learn that is by being taught how to play and then practicing that play. By engaging in some simple, traditional play and then getting a brief "brain break" as a reward for that practice.
And no matter the reason why Lily can't seem to understand the simple joy of play, whether it's the fault of ABA, DTT, inferior motor planning, or something altogether different, the fact remains that she needs to learn how to play.
And on that fact, "the therapist" and "the mom" agree.
So we work.
And maybe, just maybe, one day this baby girl will approach me with a decorated clay cookie and ask if I want to buy it from her bakery.