For Families

Let’s relate to Sammy and Kim!

November 30, 2020
  1. How does Sammy see the world?

In Sammy’s perspective:

Before introducing Sammy to this deep and personal question, we took a moment to “peace out” on our yoga mats while listening to a guided relaxation video. Although challenging for Sammy, I was curious to see how he would interpret this question in words. To guide him in expressing his perspective, we had a look out the window from the 23rd floor where we live and I asked him what he noticed outside. He pointed out the things that stood out for him and then wrote them down on a piece of paper. His mind map surrounds an eye with very long lashes listed: moving cars, round wheels, black road, red roof of buildings and playground.    

In my own perspective:

Over the years, I’ve observed Sammy’s remarkable attention to detail and patterns within ordinary day to day life; things that seem distant or unnoticed within my own unique attention window. I’ve noticed how he sees the world through colours, shapes, patterns and numbers. For example, when walking up or down stairs together, side by side, he would intentionally synchronise our steps with the same timing and footing. He would go on to count the number of stairs and formulate a multiplication equation. He loves to paint the rainbow and is drawn to specific colours like green and purple. He often associates familiar people with a specific colour and letter. One of the ways I’m able to see through Sammy’s lens of the world is to play Colourful Jenga together. I’m not referring to the standard kind of play whereby we follow the rules of stacking, but rather Sammy’s own version which supports his interests. I follow his lead as he lines up the blocks in a specific colour pattern and counts them in various multiples. I see Sammy acknowledging colours, shapes, patterns and numbers as a way for him to make sense of the world and find comfort in predictability.      

2. How does Sammy “feel the world”?

In Sammy’s perspective:

While resting in his favourite chill space (on the purple couch, compressed between many purple pillows), I presented him with the question and a heart drawn in the centre of a piece of paper. He began to draw 4 dots forming a linear, vertical line and wrote down the following: silly, excited, confused and worried.    

In my own perspective:

To elaborate on the 4 emotions Sammy listed, these are specific ones that stand out for him. I see him approach life with a lightheartedness and his own sense of humour. He enjoys being the centre of attention and acting funny; laughing out loud to something that may not be apparent to me yet it’s always good to join in on the laughter. He loves to celebrate the small successes with clapping and breaking out in song or a simple, but loud “Hooray!” I relate to him by supporting these successes with a Hi5, thumbs up or even a little happy dance. Life is a balance of polarities and sometimes Sammy may feel the world with a sense of confusion or worry. We recognise the signs of these feelings and refer to our zones of regulation board. Through this process we embrace specific coping strategies to move with these feelings. 

3. How does Sammy experience the world?

In Sammy’s perspective:

Again, while in a space where he is most relaxed and content (the purple couch), I asked him to write down things relating to how he experiences the world and prompted his mind map with the words “do what” in a bubble. In a familiar pattern, he drew 4 dots forming a linear, vertical line and wrote down the following: play dough, toys, flower coins and magnets. 

In my own perspective:

The 4 points Sammy listed above refer to the most frequent activities he chooses to engage in while taking ‘breaks’ in his own space. He loves to spin, squeeze and roll them. I reflect back on a mindful, outdoor walk Sammy went on where I picked a flower to smell it and Sammy picked one to spin it. I recognize Sammy’s need to seek out sensory experiences on a daily basis. Perhaps it’s his way of finding ‘calm within the chaos’ too. While working or communicating, he is most receptive with sensory input like rolling play dough along his feet or bouncing on an exercise ball. I’m able to relate to Sammy’s experiences by providing him with sensory input like sensory brushing, massage cupping and pillow squeezes on his back. It becomes apparent of the profound impact it has on organising his sensory system. I’ve also observed how Sammy experiences the world through song, dance and stories. He interprets the world around him by relating people and the environment to lyrics, dance routines and/or stories he’s familiar with. We’ll be walking outdoors to approach a red traffic light  and he’ll call out “Stop! In the name of Plod” – a reference to Noddy. He also makes reference to them as a means of communication and self expression. When it comes to emotions, he likes to refer to the song ‘Feelings’ by Hi5: “sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad, but feelings are something that everyone has.” I relate to Sammy’s way of experiencing the world by listening, dancing and watching along with him to better understand the references and context.

-Kimberley, senior therapist at AIMS Global, currently working in Singapore.  

Wow, thank you Sammy and Kim for providing us with this information and insight into the world of a child diagnosed with ASD and their best friend, aka live-in therapist.  We are forever grateful to continue to learn through listening to our kids (in whatever mode of communication they prefer).  

Keep on growing with us!