But he loves his swing.
He also has curly hair and a great smile!
He would swing for 45 minutes straight if I let him, but what would that accomplish? I am after getting connection with me, empowering him to use his signs and sounds to communicate with me.
So when he asks for the swing, I sit in front of him, with a smile, and wait for him to look at me and sign 'swing'. I let him swing for about 10 seconds, then I stop the swing again and wait. He will pause as if to let it register that the swing has stopped, look at me, smile and sign 'more'. Sometimes I will count down from 3, and let him supply the word "Go" (an approximation). He is mostly quiet in the swing, with little stimming taking place. Sometimes when I stop the swing his eyes glaze over and he flaps his hands for a few seconds, then he looks up to see me, smiles, and either signs "Swing" or "more". We do this for about ten minutes, then I get him off the swing and we do something else. Balloons, play with a pom-pom, play with a basket of rubber ducks, taking turns, with me always smiling and waiting for him to indicate that he wants "More" of something.
But he always comes back to the swing. I can get a lot of interaction on the swing, and he clearly loves it. I play with him for 45 minutes, and believe me, it can be taxing on me. First, it is repetitive. He has a limited repertoire of likes and interests, and there are times in the 45 minutes when I look at the clock and sigh (does that make me a bad person?). Second, it takes a lot of effort on my part. I do all the work. Third, I sometimes find myself feeling a little bored! It would be easy for me to disconnect from him. If I do, there are no repercussions. He simply reverts to stimming. Even at the end of the 45 minutes, when I am constantly interacting with him and we are having fun, once he puts his shoes on, he is content to simply sit and stim.
I wonder what good I am doing in one therapy session a week. It is better than none at all, correct?
But generally, it is a sweet session in my week. I try to remember to simply "be" in the moment with him, to recognize that this is an important time in his life, and that what I do does matter. To him, at this time, in this space. He probably won't ever travel through all the developmental levels, or be independent, or have a meaningful life. (At least not one that we neurotypicals can imagine). But I can give him this moment, this time, this love.
I worry that at home that's all that he does: sit and stim. It would be easy for a parent to decide that that is what he prefers to do, since he does not initiate interaction.
But I see joy in his eyes when we are playing on the swing.....I wish I could do more!