Monday, January 14, 2008

Snow "Therapy"

In Mt. Pleasant, MI we may not have access to any large body of water for surf therapy (which I wrote about yesterday), but we do have access to plenty of snow in the winter time.

Writing about surf therapy made me wonder what qualifies as therapy. Does it have to be administered by a licensed therapist or could it be any activity that encourages participation in day-to-day events? Or can it be an activity that just makes one feel better? Do you have to pay for it?

If so, then snow therapy doesn't count because it's absolutely free. Snow is the main requirement. Packy snow is best. The snow packs best when the temp is just above freezing. Otherwise free activities (skiing equipments can be costly) are limited to making snow angels and sledding (what kid in typically snowy areas doesn't have one?)

Anyway, if playing in the snow counts, then we have been participating in snow therapy for years. When my guy with autism was younger he didn't participate much in outdoor winter play but did like being pulled around on our sled. His next step was to start making snow angels. Finally, after years of making snowmen art projects at school and also years of watching me make a snowman, my son finally started to help me build one. He also started to participate a little in snowball fights.

When my son was younger, he'd watch me roll and assemble the snowballs. However, he did like to help with putting in the stick arms, eyes and mouth made with whatever I could find, and a carrot nose. Last year, at age 8, he finally started help me roll the snow balls. He still only does one out of the three necessary to build the snowman, but it's a big step from what he has done in the past.

Last evening, the four of us went out to play. First we had a snowball fight. Everyone took turns being the target. Dad gets the award for moving out of the way the fastest. Then, we made a snowman. We recycled the bottom part of a previous snowman the little guy had knocked down.

Both boys each rolled a ball. My younger guy wanted his ball to be the head. He made a bigger ball than I expected him to, so our snowman ended up top heavy to say the least. Dad went in for the carrot nose, almond nose, and helped us find the arms for the snowman. The oldest decorated its face and was satisfied when I drew a line with my finger to serve as the mouth. After some arguing between the two boys, we named the snowman "Snowy."

My favorite part of our family playtime was when I decided to lie down in the purple toboggan and the two boys spontaneously piled on top of me. To my surprise, my husband, picked up the yellow rope and pulled the three of us around the house. I was surprised at how soothing being pulled while lying flat on my back was--the shushing sound of the snow, the dark sky, woodsy landscape (we have two small clusters of trees in our yard), and the warmth of my two little boys. All of that gave me such a wonderful feeling. Afterward, the three of us with a sweet tooth ended our playtime with our typical cup of hot chocolate. Our time outdoors (which was not planned) ended up being a bright spot of an otherwise gloomy day. For me anyway, it seemed like Snow Therapy.


Casdok said...

Your snow therapy sounds wonderful!

J said...

Thanks. It is pretty fun.

Elissa - Managing Autism said...

What a fabulous time!
Maybe the soothing feeling that you got whilst on the sled was what your son liked when he was younger?!?

J said...

I was wondering that too. It probably did have a calming effect on him.