Many aspects of life are paradoxical and this is one of the biggies for our socially challenged kids. The children who participate in our Social Adventures Groups earnestly try to be flexible, to “go with the flow”, to try new ideas, or play a game with someone else’s rules, but it is SO very hard!
We did an activity that flopped miserably several weeks ago. Each child received a piece of paper with a simple shape drawn on it and were given 30 seconds to create a picture using the shape. Next, they passed their pictures to the person on their left who added to and changed the picture to match the image in their minds. Six-year-old Joey fell apart. We had explained and demonstrated the activity but he simply couldn’t handle it. He cried, hid under the table then tried to flee the room while yelling, “YOU ARE MESSING UP MY PICTURE!”
Since that session was a wash, Meghan and I talked about how to follow it up the next week. Do we let Joey draw his own picture to keep the peace or do we push the envelope? The next week, Meghan and I demonstrated again how the activity worked while some of the kids added to Meghan’s picture and some to mine. Then we switched. We talked about the pictures in our heads and how they were all different. We also practiced complimenting each other’s pictures.
Last week, the kids were each given 1 minute to change their shape into anything they wanted and would be able to take that picture home. They were then given a second paper with a shape to draw on and switch. This is what Joey did. He was given a figure 8 shape and began turning it into a racetrack by drawing a little car on the side. It was passed to his neighbor, Sam, who turned it into a large pair of eye glasses. When the sharing time arrived, we honestly didn’t know whether Joey would lose it or love it. They were such different kinds of pictures – a racetrack and a pair of glasses! Comments flew around the table that it would be so cool to have a pair of glasses with a racecar on the side. (Joey wears glasses, by the way). We all held our breath until a generous smile emerged on Joey’s face. When it was time to go, he ran to his mother with the picture, delightedly exclaiming that he and his friends invented a new pair of glasses!
This story exemplifies one of those balancing act events that everyone who has children in their lives experiences hundreds of times a day. Happily, I think a little peace AND flexibility were achieved in Joey’s mind and heart that day… along with a cool pair of glasses.
Submitted by: Jill Perry MHA, MS, OTR/L
image by: David, Bergin, Emmett…
Check out the Social Adventures App for more activities like this.