What is it about my son’s playroom that works so well for him – and for me?

By Alive & Well


Many people ask me what I do in the Son-Rise® playroom I have created for my son with autism, and sometimes it’s hard to describe. It’s an intricate dance.

More than anything, when I’m in the playroom I’m focused on showing him the very best that humankind has to offer by being patient, nurturing, respectful, unflappable, fun, joyful, inspiring, persistent and kind.

Mr 8 in playroom mode

Mr 8 in playroom mode

I do this by:

  • Honouring his need for control and exclusivity at times, and …
  • Using his motivations to inspire his growth during those moments when he’s open to interacting.

The key is to know which state he’s in at any given time, so I’m constantly assessing two things:

  1. Where is he at, on the spectrum of completely exclusive to completely interactive?
  2. With that in mind, what do I want to do that will be fun for me?

The difference between needs and wants

There is nothing I need from the situation, but there is plenty I want – for example, I want to experience happiness, to show my love for my son, to inspire him to value others, to encourage growth in his social skills.

But I am not fixed on an outcome. I don’t need any of those things to happen to feel the exuberance of the moment, or to show him that he is wonderful as he is and can grow to be a loving friend to many.

Truly, madly, deeply present in the moment

Importantly, the playroom is the only time in my life when I leave all my other responsibilities at the door. There are no other children, no husband, no volunteers, no assignments, no research, no blog posts, no presentations, no meals to prepare, no washing, no calls to return … it’s just me and my son, sharing some time.

There’s also no one to applaud or congratulate me. It’s just two people meeting genuinely and sharing a connection. And for a child on the spectrum, this is one of the great challenges to overcome.

For me, my son’s smile, his clear and thoughtful look into my eyes, and our shared joy in each other’s company is all that matters.

If I imagine anyone cheering, it is me. I’m cheering for my child, for the gifts he brings to my life and for the courage he displays every day. And I’m cheering for myself, for taking the time to see his beauty, his talents and his strengths, and for using them to connect deeply with him.

Can you relate? What does the playroom do for you? Would you like to create this for yourself and your child?