One of the things that is helpful to some autistic kids is doing what is called “heavy work” – essentially, moving heavy things around, pulling loaded wagons, carrying books, etc. This is included in the vestibular/proprioceptive issues that lots of sensory kids have. Heavy work is one of those ways that people who have trouble orienting their bodies in space can FEEL what their bodies are doing.
Yesterday we went to a farm about 45 minutes from here with the J-man’s class. It’s a really nice farm, with a pumpkin patch, a corn maze, a corn kernel play area, a neat playground, and the wonderous bouncy pillow thing. Everything is probably 1/4 mile from everything else, and for the price of admission (only kids are charged), you get a pumpkin, a ride behind a tractor around the farm, and the ability to be able to play on anything else there. The kids could do heavy work by pulling the loaded wagon someone thought to bring (it had all our lunches), picking up and carrying their pumpkins, or dragging the parents around after the parents were pooped…
All of this would have been great… except the J-man refused to walk anywhere. There were too many people for him, and there was too much change from the norm. Even better? Only I was deemed OK to carry him. EVERYWHERE. Or hold him, if he was upset by whatever place we were in. The playground? Was obviously a huge scary place full of sharks that would bite him if he let go of either me or Tim. The roads? Too big and scary. The corn kernel place? Too sensory overpowering.
That’s 40 lbs of heavy work for me, for about 3 hours. My arms and back are sore today.
The bouncy pillow, on the other hand? BEST THING EVER! At least for all the kids in his class.
“The rules” stated that no adults were allowed, but we persuaded the guy in charge that he should let our class go by themselves, and include the adults. Other kids’ parents complained, and someone tried to explain the reasons we were allowed on there, but you could tell those parents were mad. I figured they could get over it.