Games are difficult for Emma to understand. When she was much younger, unless it was a physical game such as chase, and only if she was the one being chased, games held little interest. The old standards, Candy Land, Shoots and Ladders, Old Maid, Go Fish all sit unused in some drawer at our house as Nic moved on to Monopoly, checkers and eventually chess, which he continues to play.
A few years ago Emma engaged in a game at a day camp with some other girls where they stood in the shallow end of a pool and threw a ball to one another while singing – The Wonder Ball Song. Emma was able to catch the ball and even threw it to the next girl, but this was unusual and so we documented it with photographs.
The Wonder Ball Game
A few years ago I tried to explain Hide and Seek to her. She seemed to understand that it involved counting and running, but the whole hiding part eluded her. We showed her some “sample” hiding places, but when it was her turn to hide, she was usually found standing in the middle of a room shouting, “There you are!” when one of us appeared in the doorway.
“No, no Em. You have to find a new hiding place and then you have to be quiet so we can’t find you,” we tried to explain.
We even persuaded Nic, who was a master at hiding in impossible-to-find locations, to take her with him to hide. But we always knew, no matter how brilliant his hiding place was, where they were because Emma couldn’t stay quiet.
“You have to be quiet,” Emma would say loudly.
Interestingly as I was writing this, Emma came into the room and said to me, “Play hide? You have to count. Come find me,” and then she ran out of the room to hide making me wonder whether she really is reading at a much higher level than we think or if it’s just a coincidence.
Not willing to pass up an opportunity to engage, I counted to twenty and then yelled, “Ready or not here I come!”
Emma is predictable in her hiding choices. She almost always wriggles under the bed sheets of her bed. So I called out as I looked in other places, “I wonder where Emma is?” while looking in the bathroom and Nic’s room before finally going into Emma’s room where a huge wiggling lump could be seen under the sheets. “Hmmm. I don’t see Emma anywhere!” I said.
“Waaaaa!” Emma screamed before I could shout it first.
“There you are!” I said tickling her.
When she scooted out from under the sheets I said, “Okay, it’s my turn to hide. You have to find me. You have to count to twenty. Okay?”
“Okay,” Emma said.
I heard her begin counting, but at around six her voice trailed off. After a few minutes I called out, “Em, you have to find me!”
She ran past the room I was hiding in, so I called out, “Hey Em! Where are you going? Come find me over here!”
After further searching she found me. “Waaaaa!” she yelled gleefully.
“Ahhhhh!” I yelled back. “Okay your turn to hide. One, two, three…” I counted.
When I opened my eyes, Emma was sitting directly in front of me on the floor. “Em, I thought you were going to hide,” I said.
“Hiding all done,” she told me, so I tickled her instead.
I know this doesn’t sound like much, but it shows a desire to engage, a desire to initiate and a desire to play with others. All of which, are huge steps for Emma.
For more on Emma and autism go to: www.EmmasHopeBook.com