Monday, August 3, 2009

In Which Connor Puts His Energy Into Making Art

I made the mistake today of splitting an ice cream sundae with Connor right before physical therapy.

Now, Connor has a love/hate relationship with ice cream. He only likes the soft-serve kind, probably because it melts quickly, and he has cold-sensitive front teeth so he makes horrible faces while eating it. He loves the taste, though, and the cold makes him have to move it to the back of his mouth (he likes to hold his food up front right behind his teeth) so he swallows it faster and eats more of it than other foods. It also probably gives him more sensory input, and since this is a child who needs strong spices and flavoring in his food-- he likes to eat wasabi and raw limes, among other things-- temperature is probably another way to get that stimulation. I talked it over with Connor's speech therapist today and we're going to try chilling all of his food right before he eats it to see if that helps him get more down.

So the ice cream was a good thing. However, it did make him go on a major sugar high. My child, when he is on a sugar high, thinks everything is funny. Everything. People talking to him. People looking at him. Inanimate objects that may or may not be looking or talking to him but are funny anyway. It's all hilarious. He also gets slightly overenthusiastic where it comes to movement too, meaning he lurches in unexpected directions when you are least expecting it, ramming his head into your neck or coming dangerously close to braining himself on the activity table.

As an aside: I remember when they thought Connor was experiencing apneac episodes (before his seizure diagnosis) and they proposed putting him on caffeine pills. Lord only knows what that would have looked like, given what sugar does to him.

So anyway, after an extremely giggle-filled, danger-fraught physical therapy session, we went home and worked off some of that energy by painting. Connor usually finger paints about once a week, and we've been doing it so long that he doesn't have any problem with the paint being on his hands. I think I have a few things to learn from the way he works. Connor doesn't just use the paint to paint a picture. Connor experiences the paint. He has to smell it and feel it and taste it (which I probably won't try with my oil paints, as I don't think they'd taste very good) and make a tremendous mess for the sake of art. I set us both up in the office, turned some music on, and he and I both painted for about forty-five minutes.

He's a joy to watch when he really gets into it. He tells me when he wants to change paint colors by putting his hands on either side of his head and rubbing the paint into his hair (the sign he uses is actually his sign for "peekaboo"-- don't ask me why he also uses it for "different" other than the fact that it gets quick results) and then eye-pointing to the one he wants. He's become very deliberate about painting, too. I've had a couple of his masterpieces framed and they're hanging in our guest bathroom. We actually get quite a few compliments on them.

He's down for bed now; painting tires him out. His hair, eyebrows and fingernails are all dyed a faint green color, which should wear off in a few days. I've set his picture out to dry. Before I put him down to sleep, I asked him what he'd painted.

"Daddy," he said.



Anonymous said...

Have you tried playdough? There are great recipes on for things like coffee and cinammon doug. By the way, if you mix those two together it smells like the best cookie you've ever had.

Julia O'C said...

A true artist experiences his medium with *all* of his senses. I love that he was painting a picture of his daddy.

Emmett has some pretty intense sensory issues and doesn't eat much, so we've been experimenting with edible playdough (thanks, anonymous, for the recipes!!). E's therapist gave us recipes for edible finger paint, though I'm not sure I want to encourage him to eat paint...

Like Connor, E adores soft ice cream. Have you ever tried blending frozen fruit with yogurt for smoothies or popsicles? Emmett loves it but oh, what a mess!

Hope your back is feeling better.

Julia said...

Oh my -- that last line ("Daddy") actually put me in tears. Second only to mine, you got the sweetest kid on the planet. Enjoy him (I know you do).

Connor's Mom said...

Thanks for the suggestions!

Connor believes playdough is the tool of the devil. Seriously. He hates it. But we make him put his hands in it anyway. Sensory therapy, don'cha know.

I have tried frozen yogurt, and he likes it, though not as much as softserve, for whatever reason. Probably because it's not quite as sweet. I make homemade ice cream on a regular basis too, and he seems to like that-- probably once again because it's softer and melts faster.

My back is feeling better, though I'm still moving kind of slow. Thanks!

And he is a pretty sweet little guy. I love him to death.

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