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Taking On The Park

Posted Jun 07 2013 12:10pm
At this time last year, Tommy was finishing up his final year of Early Intervention and finishing a year of therapy at the Children's Institute of Pittsburgh . He was just beginning to use a toddler slide by himself and would not venture through a play tunnel. Those are some of the activities we worked on then.
Tom held on for 24 seconds. He is strong!
Most sighted children do not have to work on those things. But it takes time to figure out all the equipment at a park and Tommy needed to touch and feel everything he possibly could so he could understand it.

I love how Tommy carefully feels his way around new environments. This is not the time to worry about germs. Exploring by hand is essential to way Tommy learns about the world around him.

Trailing everything at the park.
The park is a great time to talk about the different kinds of terrain and other markers that can help with orientation. Is the slide in the middle of the park out in the sun or in the shade? Even without light perception kids can feel the heat of the sun on their body and feel the cool of the shade. Those differences should be noted and used for orientation.

The grass; is it dry and crunchy, or soft and wet like in the mornings on the way to school? We always take a moment to talk about the weather on our way out the door.

Sometimes we bend down to touch wet grass or stomp on crunchy leaves. Since the park will usually have patches of wood chips, or spongy flooring under the play equipment those can also serve as markers for orientation.

But what I wanted to tell you about our latest trip to the park is that Tommy sure lived up to the name of his blog that day. He did it all! He explored the play equipment with confidence. He climbed up ladders and steps while trailing with his hands. He knew what he favorites were and he asked for them by name. And he had a blast!

My husband and I had one of those rare and magical parenting moments where everything seems easy and fun. Tom was doing exactly what kids his own age do and he was having fun.

You have to understand that over the years, (OK, the last three and a half years,) we have pushed Tommy to do things and it hasn't always been fun. We have gone to events and participated in activities that ended in meltdowns and disappointment. Some children's events or facilities are just too visual and don't allow for much participation on Tommy's part.

As parents that has been really hard to watch. We have to look for opportunities that will allow Tommy to be a part of the event. Events that allow him to touch and physically experience things are the most successful.

Tandem sliding!
Now that Tommy is a little older and a little more physically able he can participate in new ways. He can take a turn or have a chance. That doesn't mean that everything is easy. I'm just saying that Tommy is in the game now and we are loving it!

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