Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, September 09, 2005

What Works, Part I

Floortime therapy: Fed up with the conflicted responses from experts and the complete lack of offers of help I received therefrom, I embarked not so long ago on a sort of solo attempt to help N address his social issues. But, of course, I wasn't alone. I have friends who've been here and done this, and they provided support. Tamar even loaned me her much-beloved copy of Stanley Greenspan's The Child With Special Needs, and gave me tutorials on how best to do floortime with N. And so I did. Sporadically, poorly. But I did it.

Now, I'm not going to pretend that I 'cured' my son. First of all, I don't think he needed curing. He needed help. And I gave him a little. Very little. I never did find the time to make it part of our daily routine, but I'd say that I managed to incorporate at least the thinking behind floortime in much of my interactions with him, and to sometimes actually even get down on the floor and "do" floortime.

There on the floor, I never really thought we were getting anywhere. I only saw the deficits, the things I needed to 'fix.' I felt discouraged, to be honest. But then I noticed changes. They were minor, and they were subtle, and they were hard to see if you weren't me. But I saw them. And then they started to expand, slowly, slowly, slowly.

Now, let me tell you about the past seven days or so. Last Friday, a no-WeeyumWise day, I arrived to pick N up at preschool. The kids were outside. I looked around for N in all his usual sitting-by-himself spots. He wasn't in any of them. And then I noticed him, sitting on the ground next to a little girl in his class, playing with dolls in the dollhouse the teachers had brought outside. He was so engrossed in his play that he didn't hear me or see me, and so I stood by a tree and watched, for minutes, as he and the girl talked to each other in high, squeeky pretend voices, being their characters. I watched while his doll, in a fireman costume, squirted her doll, who was supposedly on fire. I watched them laughing together. It was a moment of such sublime contentment for me that I almost felt like I was going to swoon; I even reached out to hold onto the tree to steady myself.

On Tuesday, another no-WeeyumWise day, there was another breakthrough. This time, I arrived to find him running around playing with another little boy named WeeyumO. When I told N it was time to go, he ran over to WeeyumO and hugged and kissed him, a gesture that was reciprocated with a big smile. Weeyum O followed us to the gate, waving over and over to N and saying "See you tomorrow! We'll play more tomorrow, right?" and N smiled and giggled and waved back and said, "Yes, see you tomorrow!"

On Wednesday, while Baroy was at a soccer meeting, I took N for a bike ride up and down our block. Em was playing with her friends J and Gray; Gray's brother, D, was outside. He and N have become friendly over time, which has been encouraging enough, but this time, D was playing with a younger boy next door. N hesitated, then jumped off his bike and joined D and the younger boy. As if this is the sort of thing he does every day, join in with other kids who are playing together. Within minutes, they were all three laughing and running up and down the block. Eventually, I told N it was time for us to go back home, at which point he threw a fit. "I don't want to go with you!" he told me huffily. "I want to stay and play with D!"

Three totally normal, mundane moments, and they filled my heart to bursting. I can't say for certain that these things are a result of floortime. But I know they weren't possible for N before I started doing therapy with him, before I gave up on waiting for help. And so, if I ever get to meet Dr. Greenspan, I'm going to give him a huge hug, and then I'm going to tell him that I think he's a genius, and then I'm going to tell him that I think he aims too low. Because N doesn't really 'fit' into the usual in-need-of-floortime categories. But, clearly, he was--and still is--in need of floortime. And so am I.

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