on our walk to the first grade picnic from school we pass through a small wooded path. it's a fantastic walk to make with little ones because the dark woods just beg the imagination. the kindergartners i'd gone with the week before had all taken my hand and shouted, "look! a bear!"
my bff took one look at the forest, turned to me and said, "oh, little red riding hood, here is your basket to take to your grandma. here is your red riding hood." i bent down as he pretended to put it on my head and tie it around my chin. then we skipped along the path- me trying to make sure the other kids stayed out of the mud- him in his own fairy tale world.
when we got to the park he immediately ran and got a stick, carried it around running with it, then started blowing on it and then kicked it with his feet. as i was coming over to yell that we don't play with sticks i heard him saying "then i'll huff, and i'll puff, and i'll BLOW your house down"
he wasn't actually going to attack anyone with the stick, run with it, or hurt anyone. he was pretending to be in another fairy tale. then he threw mulch to stimulate the house blowing over. none of this is ok behavior, but i was fascinated that his imagination was in such high-gear. so i figured- why yell at him and break his mood when i can just redirect the behavior? if you can't beat 'em- join 'em.
i stepped into his story myself as the little pigs. we acted it out over and over again "little pig, little pig..." "no! not by the hair!".... until a girl who was in his kindergarten class came over.
"can i play?" she asked. he barely noticed her, but she joined me as a fellow pig a few times before suggesting to him that we do another story- how about the little red hen. slowly as we acted out every fairy tale we knew we were joined by children from other classes- children i'd never met before. some kids came and watched us, clapping at the end of each story.
in the end we had four gingerbread men in some stories, two goldilocks, and multiple big bad wolfs. we even did a rendition of knuffle bunny. slowly the other children and i got tired and we all fell off, leaving just my bff to begin reciting green eggs and ham for me (he knows it all- the whole thing. and poor guy was so frustrated that i didn't know the part of sam).
it was a fantastic experience for him- he was playing- really interacting with imaginative play- with his peers. and they weren't looking at him like he was crazy. it wasn't pity play- it was "what a great idea! let's do it this way!" play.
i watched autism, the musical, the other day and found myself getting teary eyed thinking of my bff. he would love to be a part of something like that. he has so much promise even if it's not "typically developing" promise. what ways can we find for him to thrive outside traditional school?