Last weekend, our children with autism were visiting from their group home. It is always great to have them with us.
At one point, Our daughter Abby was playing in the backyard. I grabbed a book and sat out on the deck while she played. Part of me felt guilty for reading rather than playing with here. Wouldn’t a good dad put the book down and play?
When I say that Abby was playing, what I mean is that she was digging in the dirt beneath the deck. I know Abby well enough to know that if I tried to join her, she would either say “No thank you!” or take my arm and escort me away. Digging in the dirt is her thing. She wouldn’t even want me to stand behind her and watch over her shoulder.
That is not to say she was upset about me being outside with her. In a way, what we were doing was parallel play. She dug in the dirt (hi digger) and I read some philosophy (Heidegger). It is not the traditional way of interacting but it works for us.
When Abby wants direct interaction, she lets us know. For example, she made it clear when she was ready for us to go for a drive to Tim Horton’s.
It is important not to judge what quality time looks like. Quality time is not less than the traditional way, with autism it is just different.