Thursday, February 22, 2018

Playdates @ We Rock the Spectrum, Ara Damansara

Arif doing pull ups for the first time!

One of Arif's favourite places to go (and his favourite play gym), is We Rock the Spectrum (WRTS) at Ara Damansara. We love going there because they have lots of specialised equipment, which is perfect for children with special needs like Arif. They also have an awesome area for table tasks like drawing and fine motor play. 

Climbing the net for the first time!

And while we enjoy visiting the gym on our own, I often set up playdates with friends so that Arif can learn to play with others and take turns. Though he has a long way to go in terms of communication and socialising, I have seen many improvements in him. 

Playing with friends from CBR Network, PDK Ara.

Arif has also started to mimic his friend's actions.

Each time we visit, Arif tries and discovers something new, growing braver and stronger. For example, he used to be terrified of swings, due to his vestibular issues. But thanks to the activities we've done at home, at playgroup and WRTS, he's no longer afraid of swinging. In fact, he loves it so much now! It's nice to see him grow more confident, not just in terms of gravitational security, but also body and spatial awareness. When we first started coming to WRTS in July last year, Arif played with only a few things, mainly the trampoline. But on our last visit and play date with my friend Juliana and her son Ibrahim earlier this week, Arif tried many new things. It was also the first time that I saw him mimicking what another child is doing.

Arif having a swinging good time. He first saw Ibrahim do it and thought he'd give it a try.

Arif's getting better at balance beams too!

Arif has also gotten very good at solving puzzles, even ones he has never seen before. I can still remember the days when he struggled to manipulate puzzle pieces in his hand. He was unable to grasp the pieces firmly and turn them as needed.

Arif has gotten very good at solving puzzles :)

When he has climbed, jumped, run and rolled, he'll sit in a quiet corner and so his own thing.

This fine motor activity is so cool, Arif loves it!

As a child on the autism spectrum, Arif likes to line things up in a row. This is often described as rigid behaviour and is said to reflect a lack of imagination and appropriate play. To me, it may not make sense to us, but it makes perfect sense to Arif. So if it makes him happy, I'm happy to let him continue on. Plus, I've seen him get creative with his arrangements and he does engage in some imaginative and pretend play.

And of course, he loves animal figurines, as well as lining them up.

Arif gets creative with lining up the sea creatures.

Sorting things out is one of Arif's favourite things to do.

The other toys at the gym that Arif loves, are the musical instruments and train set. The musical instruments are especially fun when played with friends! I look forward to our next visit to WRTS and wonder what Arif will surprise me with. Hope to see you there!

A cute three-piece band, led by Aunty Juju. I tried joining in with my triangle :)

Arif loves the train set :)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

New additions to KAMI Playgroup!

Check out this cheerful and colourful corner!

It's only been about three months since we launched KAMI Playgroup, but slowly and surely, we're growing better with each passing week. When we held our 8th KAMI Playgroup session at Masjid Kg Tunku on 27 Jan, we were especially excited, thanks to some new additions. Firstly, we welcomed four new families into our group, and secondly, we now have ten gym balls ready for action! This week, we welcomed 8 children, 10 parents and 3 volunteers in total. Everyone came ready to play :)

We started our session as usual with Salam, doa and zikir during circle time.

Next, we did a warm-up music and movement activity with action songs.

After our warm up session, we did two activities for indoor play. First, we used our new gym balls to do calming and alerting exercises. Can I just say how much I love these gym balls and the colour they add to our space? Awesome! I also introduced the parents a to a simple brain gym massage, which helps to increase blood flow to the brain and improve focus. You can learn more about brain gym exercises here.

A rainbow of gym balls! A fun addition to our playgroup sessions. 
For the second activity, the children engaged in a table task involving fine motor play. We gave them each some coloured pasta/ perler beads, which they had to thread onto a pipe cleaner. Though it seems really simple, this activity requires focus, hand control and hand-eye coordination. After the fine motor play, we got messy with a sensory play session, where we made our very own playdoh.

Fine motor activity, threading beads on pipe cleaners.

Mixing up our own playdoh using flour, salt, warm water, vegetable oil and food colouring.

Thank you Sharon and Aisyah for helping us out this week!

I am most grateful for another good playgroup session and I'm excited to plan even more activities for the kids. Stay tuned for more on KAMI!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Two articles out this month...

Guys, I've been under the weather for days. It's been awful. I really hope to get back on my feet again very soon. On the flip side, I do have two articles out this week. The first is a short article I wrote on the National Museum's Saloma exhibition for Essenze magazine (issue 49). And the second is an article by Focus Malaysia, in which I was able to share my personal thoughts and experiences regarding financial planning in raising a special needs child. If you're interested, these publications are now available at Malaysian newsstands.


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