Whole-body movement series (part-3)
Embracing Whole-Body Movement in My Son’s Daily Routine: A Day of my son Yuvaan’s life.
In the fast-paced world we live in, it’s easy to overlook the importance of physical and mental well-being. This holds especially true for my 6-year-old son, Yuvaan, who navigates life on the autism spectrum and faces the challenges of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). In this blog post, I delve into Yuvaan’s daily routine, emphasizing the integration of whole-body movement and its profound impact on his life.
Understanding Yuvaan’s Profile:
Yuvaan, a gifted child with high intellect, faces the constant demand of academic pursuits due to his insatiable curiosity. His sensory needs, intricately tied to his cognitive development, require innovative approaches to keep him engaged. Introducing whole-body movement activities became a cornerstone in fulfilling these needs.
For Yuvaan, who is on the spectrum and also a child with a Pathological Demand Avoidance profile, possesses a keen curiosity, enthusiastically explores and learns from his environment. He is a bundle of hyperenergy, a gifted child with high intellect, IQ, and cognitive functioning. Constantly seeking ways to learn new things, he is inclined towards academic pursuits, books, and related interests, exhibiting a strong sensory need to engage his highly developed mind.
Given his PDA profile, where every task is perceived as a demand to be avoided, introducing whole-body movement becomes crucial. Despite his natural tendency to resist demands, especially the ones instructed by others, it is essential to fulfill his sensory needs. I address this by incorporating occupational therapy activities, outdoor play, and exercises tailored to his interests, such as counting, skip counting, tables, mathematical operations, squares, and cubes that he enjoys the most.
Outdoor Learning and Play:
The journey began three to four years ago, with basic counting activities during outdoor play. I began integrating outdoor activities with basic counting (Yuvaan doing counting while performing these outdoor activities), gradually evolving into more complex mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, tables, squares, and cubes etc. Utilizing and incorporating numbers found in our surroundings, such as house numbers, parking numbers, and lamp posts and using them for instant calculations, sums, and number of engaging oral maths activities has turned a routine exercise into learning engaging challenges for Yuvaan. While these activities may not always be necessary now, they prove handy when setting clear boundaries in a hurry.
Incorporating whole-body movement exercises and activities has been transformative, positively impacting and proving to be a boon for my child’s development. These activities not only catered to his sensory needs but also enriched his academic interests.
Yuvaan’s day commences at approximately 7 AM, initiating with a well-structured morning routine. This includes essential activities such as using the toilet, brushing, freshening up, dressing, a brief playtime, breakfast, morning rituals, donning shoes, socks, and his ID card before heading to school.
In grade 1, Yuvaan encounters a diverse curriculum consisting of six core subjects. Additionally, he participates in various other subjects and co-curricular activities like Zumba, instrumental music, dance, physical education, swimming, occupational therapy (OT), special education, among others. The school timetable is packed with daily and weekly activities, competitions, Olympiads, exams, and events, ensuring a mentally and physically engaging experience.
Conveniently located near our home, Yuvaan walks back from school with me. Upon returning, a swift routine follows, encompassing his bath, afternoon rituals, and lunch before we engage in quality time together. The afternoon grants him the freedom of unstructured play, and later, study sessions and homework provide intellectual stimulation. Subsequently, he delights in the playground’s slides and swings during autumn and winter, transitioning to swimming in the summer months.
Yuvaan’s daily routine extends to a visit to the local public park, where he utilizes exercising machines for whole-body workouts in a refreshing outdoor setting. This serves as an opportunity for him to bond, both with me and with new friends, including local kids from nearby villages and some pets.
The evening outdoor sessions conclude with a brisk 2+ km walk cum run. Back at home, Yuvaan continues to enjoy his playtime.
Impact on Yuvaan’s Life:
The integration of movement-based activities into Yuvaan’s routine yielded remarkable results:
A. Improved Sensory Processing: Reduction in sensory sensitivities enhanced Yuvaan’s daily comfort.
B. Enhanced Motor Skills: Fine and gross motor skills witnessed significant improvement, positively affecting focus, coordination, and physical confidence.
C. Increased Communication: Outdoor play facilitated communication, turn-taking, and social development, contributing to enhanced language skills.
D. Stress Reduction: Mindful physical activities became tools for managing stress and anxiety, making daily routines more manageable.
Therapeutic and Ripple Effect:
Recognizing the sensory and motor challenges faced by individuals on the autism spectrum, I introduced whole-body movement as an integral part of Yuvaan’s therapy. This deliberate approach aimed to enhance sensory processing, fine and gross motor skills, and overall communication.
The transformative power of whole-body movement extended beyond Yuvaan’s personal development. Regular outdoor activities not only enriched his well-being but also created positive ripples in our daily lives.
This blog sheds light on the seamless integration of whole-body movement into our daily routine and its far-reaching benefits. By prioritizing physical activity, even in our busy schedules, we not only enhance our health but also become inspirations for others to follow suit.
Author: Shilpi Mayank Awasthi
Your thoughts and feedback on this journey of embracing whole-body movement are highly valued. Share your insights and let’s continue this conversation on the transformative power of movement in the lives of individuals with unique needs.