Stay On Target...Stay On Target
Trying to fill my days is not hard. I have way too much to do. But as a stay at home mom to a special needs toddler, with a part time accounting job, a husband who is on constant travel (thus making it feel like I'm a single mom) and trying to get Be Like Buddy into every home who needs him, I was finding myself lost as to how to structure my days. I constantly felt like I was getting a little bit of everything 25% done without feeling like I accomplished anything meaningful for my son.
I know my priority is my son. Every day. The challenge is that he does not participate in any functional play. I have been letting him engage in the style of play that he seeks out: spinning car wheels, rolling balls back and forth across the span of the house, and tapping on the iPad screen. It never dawned on me that this wasn't ok. It was just Little Dude being Little Dude the way he has always been. That's not to say that I didn't actively try to get him to do other things, like finger paints, play doh, bubbles, dance parties, sensory bins, story time, etc. I was doing all those things. It's tough, though, because Little Dude's attention span for these things is approximately 30 seconds before he gets combative, and honestly, I can't "fight" him all day long to play. So, I just let him be him.
Until our last developmental pediatric appointment. At which the doctor starting using terms like "red flags" and "bizarre behaviour". Something had to change.
I am a very structured person. I like routines, and visual goal charts and checking off boxes. I function best that way and it keeps me getting a ton of sh*t done! I reached out to fellow special needs moms on one of my Facebook groups and got some feedback on activity ideas (mostly), but one mom in particular had a very regimented way she approached her day with her son who is almost the exact same age as mine. I liked it a lot and it gave me an idea on how to put together a lesson plan of sorts for Little Dude.
I made a list of all the things that we could do in any given day, even if it was just for five minutes. I tried to incorporate a lot of things that would require him to get outside of his sensory comfort zone (art projects, sensory bins, new foods), improve his communication skills (flashcards, "Simon Says", animal sounds) and made sure to include weekly goals of socializing with other kids through playdates, and trips to the playground and library. My goal is to do each of these at least three times a week. Sometimes we hit our goals, sometimes we don't. The important part is that I know that I am giving him every opportunity to be as successful as he can AND I don't feel like a tearful pile of failure at the end of the day. Win-win.