Hey Moms with little kids! How many of you remember the first time your child explored their body parts in the bath and what they said? How many of you knew what to say, especially if those kids had special needs of some sort? Bath time is one of my son Michael’s favorite parts of the day, like it is for most children, albeit girls, but that’s another post. 🙂 I treasure this time that he and I have together with his bath toys. He’s fairly independent in his play now and in washing himself, but he still LOVES for me to make his bath friends (rubber duck, turtle, fish and felt alphabet letters, and other figurines he brings in) talk. I must confess that I created these voices several years ago to help speed along his rapidly developing social interaction skills with me and others around him. Now those voices have stuck, and he and I still do them. We’ve even carried them into play with his stuffed animals at other times of the day. Yes, I know I’m a little crazy! Let’s just say it’s the kid in me coming out. 🙂
Anyway, Michael has now taken to imitating what goes on in his classroom with his friends through the use of these toys. For example, Fishy (conveniently named for the toy fish), acts out by hitting a wall and the teacher (played by the bath letter representing her name whatever Michael chooses her name to be), sends him to time out or the principal’s office. It’s quite funny, but sometimes he gets carried away dishing out the timeouts, along with the teachers getting angry with the students. At those times, I have to redirect him. Parents with typical children do this all the time, but it’s a whole other ballgame with a child with autism or other special needs in most cases, right Exceptional Moms? When my little guy has his mind set on something, it’s pretty hard to distract him and I mean FOR ANYTHING. Anyway, the other day when I did miraculously manage to distract him from doing this type of play, he surprised me by not only finding another activity, body exploration of his genitals, but in saying something funny about it. “Mommy, if I hit my penis will it cry?” Michael asked in a serious tone. I took a deep breath so as not to laugh hysterically and prayed for the right answer to me to me. I think I did alright. I answered him. “No, Michael. You would cry because your penis is attached to you and it would hurt.” I waited expectantly and he nodded then went on to something else thankfully. I was also overjoyed at him reaching the exploration milestone that is typical for this age group. Of course then I thought soon questions about where babies come from would be next. Sigh. I would cross that bridge when I came to it, I decided. What can I say? It’s all in the day’s work of parenting a child with special needs and that’s what I think we all can take away from when interacting with our exceptional boys and girls.