My name is Mary Barnes. I am a wife and the mother of 4 beautiful children. I have a bachelors degree in theatre from Grand Valley State University and I am currently working on a graduate certificate in Autism at Oakland University. I consider myself a professional at play!
My second child, Sam, refused to come into this world head first and still reacts differently to the world to this day. Sam has sensory processing disorder (SPD) and had a great deal of difficulty acquiring and understanding language. By 23 months, he was enrolled in Early On and began working with a speech and language pathologist and was followed by an occupational therapist. When I first heard about SPD, I was attending a parent's class through Macomb Infant Preschool about sensory integration therapy. I kept exclaiming to myself..."That's Sam!" It fit him to a T. I started reading...and reading...and reading! I think I read every popular book ever written on SPD and visited every website on the first few pages of a google search. I was fascinated! My home slowly became a sensory gym. Our daily lives became an experiment in what activities worked for Sam, and were still fun for him and his big sister, Renna. We slowly figured out what helped him learn to learn!
SPD, though not autism, is closely related. SPD is often a co-morbid diagnosis with ASD. My fascination with sensory play quickly became a fascination with the lives and alternative world view of those on the autism spectrum. I applied to the OU Autism Certificate Program with an intro letter about Sam. This website was created to fulfill a class requirement, and a new dream...to teach others about meaningful play. All of these activities are things kids LIKE to do. Current research shows that ALL children learn through sensory play. In terms of early development, children first process new information through their senses.
So, I hope you try some of the activities and links. I hope you spend 75% of your time with your small children on the floor learning how they learn. I hope you learn that it is not only ok, but desirable to make a mess! I hope you have as much fun as we have.