Friday, March 13, 2009

I'll be the Elephant. You be the Zookeeper.

I can't really describe the feeling of elation that I get when my clients learn to play. For many children with Autism, abstract thinking (that is vital to play) is extremely difficult; for others, everything they see if symbolic (ask me to explain to you The Brown C), so part of my job is helping them learn to play, both functionally, socially, and imaginatively.

While some adults may find it rather humiliating to run around on their hands and knees barking like a dog and picking up a ball with their teeth, or using their arm as a trunk and giving elephant kisses; I simply love it. I love the excitement in a child's eyes (and sometimes in their flapping hands) when they learn to roll over and pant with their tongue hanging out.

And today, after yet another session of Zookeeper & Elephant with my favorite little boy (yes, I have favorites), I came home and saw this post on TED that gave me such a rush of energy---it would have been an AHA moment, had I not already known it to be SO true!

Check it out!
A pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults -- and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.

So get out there and PLAY!

1 comment:

David Carreon said...

Keep on playing!

I was sitting on a bench the other day minding my own business. Then, from across the courtyard, a boy with curly blond hair peeked out from cover of a wall, aimed and fired a rifle at me made of air. I, not one to allow such injustice, returned fire, sending streams of make-believe bullets back at him. He was too quick and took cover. After we exchanged fire for a few minutes, he got a good shot in. I sprawled backwards on the bench and laid there, dead. It was a good minute before I came back to life. The expression on the kid's face was priceless: relief (he was young enough still to doubt that pretend bullets don't kill) and joy (as if it was strange for adults to play such games).

We certainly don't make believe enough. Great post! Glad to hear you're doing well!