When in Doubt, Giggle it Out!
Posted by annamarkowitz
February 16, 2012, 9:16 pm
Gil Tippy, PsyD and Author of Respecting Austism, will be hosting a worshop at our K-12 Education Expo on March 10th! He has many tips to share with parents and teachers of autistic children, so make sure to check it out. In the meantime check out this game that he recommends:
When I first see parents and their children, I almost always spend some time telling them about the “tickle monster game.” Most families of kids who have disorders of relating and communicating have found that one of the best ways for them to engage their hard to engage kids is with some version of the game where they approach their child with hands out, and then jump in and tickle them. Usually, this is Dad, who just by nature wants to get in there and stir things up! So, in first sessions, I very often spend some time giving them permission to follow their instincts with their kids, but I tell them a little bit about how they can make the game I have come to call “Tickle Monster” more helpful to the development of their children, without robbing it of any of the fun!
I tell them, “Usually, dads like to swoop right in, without any warning, and just start tickling. That would be ok if your kid could process things as quickly as you and I, but since your kid is having trouble with processing the world, I want you to really slow down. Give lots of big affect, lots of affect in your voice, like, ‘I’m coming!’ Maybe stamp a foot. Then, ‘I’m coming!’ Again, with another foot stomp. The idea is to give your child as many clues, auditory and visual, all hooked to the emotions, that you are on the way to him, as you can. Watch your kid. We want him to be giggly, emotionally excited and eagerly anticipating your coming to get him. Also, start from across the room, so that your child has a long time to anticipate you, and to think about you. We want him to hold an image of you coming in his mind, and we want him to think about you, and try to anticipate what you are doing. This is all doing the developmental work, the work of developing ideas about others, and it is doing it in the most fun and giggly way possible.
Remember, your work with your child should not be miserable, dragging him through mindless drills. Fun, joy, and happiness are your friends, and they can make helping your child develop the best part of your day. This, after all, is how it is really intended to be!