Thursday, November 17, 2011

Down time

I love how certain posts that I do here come from conversations I’ve had with coaches, therapists, family or friends. This is another one of those posts.

A  few weeks ago I was talking to Alvin’s music therapist about how many therapy activities he does a week. At the time it was preschool in the morning (that uses ABA as the basis of the work they do with the kids), gymnastics once a week, music therapy once a week and Top Soccer (soccer for kids with physical/developmental disabilities) once a week. Then on top of this we try and work on at home some of the skills he is doing at school, music and gymnastics for about 10 minutes a week.

The next question he asked made me think. Does Alvin have down time? My immediate answer is yes but later on the way home I got to thinking about it all. He had mentioned that he and his wife had worked with kids that just never seemed to get a break and how tough it was on them.

So does Alvin get a break from it all. Yes he does in a few ways. Lately due more to Elliot’s love of art projects I’ve tried to once a week to let both kids sit at the table and paint pictures. I started giving them finger paint and paint brushes just to play and experiment with. The only rule is that everything stay on the table and that they don’t get up until they are completely done painting.

There are also evenings after Elliot goes to bed and weekend mornings. Alvin loves the Big Bang Theory and honestly by 7 or 7:30 I’m exhausted and ready to stop structured activities for the day anyway. Plus weekend mornings I let them watch a full morning of their favorite cartoons and snack on breakfast before we get up and out of the house for the day.

The thing is W and I try and use every day as a learning experience for both kids. As most of our friends here can attest to Alvin is treated like a normally developing 4 year old. We expect him to follow all the same rules as his sister and at times be a role model for her.

I think it’s important for Alvin (and Elliot too) to have the time to play together or do things with no schedule. As much as I love their activities the unstructured time is just as valuable to learn social skills and how to play together.

So do any of you have thoughts about how much is too much and the amount of down time your kids get?

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