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Once Hayden and I sat down together we started to talk about all the things that Broden should try. One thing on the list was teaching Broden how to play a Wii game. Hayden said, “Broden just watches me play Wii. It would be fun to be able to play a game with Broden.” What was so wonderful about this process was that I realized that we were not only going to be creating new and exciting experiences for Broden, but also providing connections for our two boys.

Last week was the first week of implementing our new approach to play. Broden brings his own bag of toys to clinic and we plan to add new toys to his toy bag once he masters his first bag of toys. There may be toys that Broden has no interest in, but the hope is that there might be a few things that may connect Hayden and Broden. I caught a glimpse of it this weekend when Broden grabbed a foam sword out of his bedroom. A few minutes later, Hayden picked it up and started to play with it. I thought, “Ah! Both of them seemed interested in the same toy.” I acknowledged this as a step in the right direction. It may be a small step, but in the world of autism, we’ll accept any type of step as long as it is in the right direction.

Being in the military, there are many programs available to give your children with autism opportunities to try new things and to create situations where your child can socialize and play with other children. Remember that each experience is allowing your child to grow. At Fort Hood, TX, the EFMP (Exceptional Family Program) has a program called the Sea Dragons. This program allows families with special needs children to swim together. They create a safe and welcoming environment for families that may not be available at a public pool.

Programs, like the Sea Dragons, are provided at military installations to ensure families with special needs have opportunities to grow. I encourage you to reach out to your EFMP at your installation to see what is provided in your area.

Again, appropriate play for children with autism can be quite difficult to achieve, but there are ways to tackle this obstacle. If your child with autism has siblings, ask for their help. Make this a team effort so you can allow the entire family to feel connected to their sibling with autism. In many ways, if the siblings are a part of the process, they may be more inclined to ensure their sibling with autism succeeds because if their sibling with autism succeeds, then they have as well. They will remember that there is more hope with every small victory.

WebMD Feature from “Exceptional Parent” Magazine

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