Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Play ideas for parents of young children with autism by Intan Miranti

Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking part in a workshop conducted by none other than Intan Miranti, founder of ANDI Intitiave. During my early stages of autism fact finding, I had came across her name several times, and grew to admire her due to her dedication as an autism parent and the work that she does to help others.

She is a very busy lady, so when I learnt she would be holding a workshop at Sprouts Kids, I jumped at the chance! The icing on the cake was that the workshop would be on play ideas, something that I really want to learn about, not just for Arif, but for a community project that I'm working on.

With our trainer Intan Miranti, an inspiring autism parent who I've always wanted to meet :)

Here's a brief recap on the awesome 3-hour session we shared with Intan:

* All pictures are by me and used with permission from ANDI Initiative.

Intan began by explaining the importance of play for children with autism and how we, as parents, can utilise play as a means of achieving specific goals. Parents of young children with autism (like me) need to come up with activities that are both fun and therapeutic, but we often run out of ideas on how to play and engage with our child. The key is to be creative, resourceful and flexible.

Intan shows us how to set up a simple obstacle course.

Using items that can easily be found in shops or that we may already have at home, Intan showed us how to get the most out of play activities and modify them to meet our child's level and needs. Among the purpose of play modification is to minimise the child's frustration and give him a sense of triumph.

We can use simple toys and household items but employ different strategies on how to use them.

Parents must also modify activities to fit the goal they've set for the session, for example -  gross motor/ fine motor/ vestibular/ proprioceptive exercise, to encourage communication or just to bond and have fun. As grown ups, Intan explains, we've forgotten how to play and think like a child. So we must try and put ourselves in our child's shoes to get a feel of how they might experience the play session.

For older children who can take instructions, Intan showed us other strategies for play that will encourage children to pay attention to the other person playing with them.

She also recommends recording our play interactions with our children, so that we can see for ourselves how we interact with them. More often than not, Intan says, utism parents (especially of of non-verbal children) tend to over compensate by talking too much during a play session.

We must exercise restraint and caution, because if we give too many instructions or ask too many questions, we may end up frustrating our child. Instead, we must strive to give comments in the form of parallel talking or self talking. This requires practise.

Card games like Go Fish can be valuable in teaching autistic kids about communication. Arif is too young for this activity, but I will certainly keep this in mind for the future.

While compliance is an important part of play sessions, Intan cautions parents about creating scenarios that compel our autistic children to always comply and agree to an activity. We do not want to raise "parent pleasers" who later become "people pleasers." These children are often unhappy on the inside and lack self confidence. It's a fine line. We want our children to do as they're told and most children want to please their parents, but they should not be fearful of not meeting expectations and be frustrated that they have no choice.   

Overall, we had a fun-filled and action-packed session, with ample opportunities for parents to ask questions and contribute ideas. Alhamdulillah, I took away many lessons that day and I hope to put my new-found knowledge to good use.

I look forward to attending more workshops and training sessions by Intan Miranti, one of which is coming up on Sunday, 12th November at Permata Kurnia, KL. She will be speaking about another topic that's close to my heart - homeschooling!

PS: Thanks for dropping by my blog today, but before you go, check this out:

During our break, we had delicious nasi lemak made by Autism Cafe Project Malaysia.

And if you'd like to find out more Intan's work and ANDI Initiative, please visit:

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