On Monday 23rd March 2020 the UK officially went into lockdown due to the pandemic. Aara’s grandad who lived with us, passed away on 25th March 2020, due to COVID-19. The picture below sums up their relationship. They had an amazing connection which can never be replaced. She loved her “Bapa” and “Bapa loved Aara” (Bapa means Grandad in Gujrati). They would sing the song “Rain Rain Go Away” and Johnny Johnny yes papa” (but replace papa with Bapa)!!!
On 23rd March at 8am Aara fell down the stairs and broke her leg. Abbas and I took her to A&E which was a whole new experience due to the pandemic. Aara went for an X-ray and was plastered up in a cast which enabled her to walk. We were in and out within 40 minutes. However, a few days later we had to go back to the hospital and her cast was replaced with a boot, and boy was that hell. Aara was not able to get to grips with walking in that boot. She was supposed to be in it for two weeks.
Prior to the lock down, during the past 8 months Abbas and I had worked so hard in reducing screen times; we were heavily focused on trying to teach Aara to eat at a table rather than a high chair and remove the need for TV at meal times. However, that all went out the window when she broke her leg.
As soon as the boot came off and Aara was comfortable to walk, she had a shock to her system when I reduced TV completely. I implemented a strict routine which involved garden time at 8am! I bought so many different toys, arts and crafts and researched on what activities I could potentially be doing with her. I stressed myself out a little as I tried to ensure Aara was constantly entertained or learning, but I learnt the hard way that structured play is not always going to work and to take her lead on what activities she wants to partake in and what toys she wants to play with. (This is all part of the Hanen approach (you can read about that in our PECS vs Hanen blog).
I bought lots of sand, animal magnets, letter magnets, ABC shapes and item flash cards. I bought a mat which had road markings on, toy vehicles, reading books, lots of paint, a paddling pool, toy musical instruments, play dough, crayons and bubbles. I basically had a mini Toys R Us in my dinning/office/play area.
I would break the day up into sections, and I would choose to have three structured activities a day, each lasting for 15 minutes, and this included activities such as:
- I would draw numbers 1 – 10 on the easel and she would guess what the number is.
- I would stick an animal magnet on the easel and she would sign and say the animal
- Have music time where we would play the musical instruments and I would sing a nursery rhyme and play the instruments simultaneously and then freeze at a certain point waiting for her to finish the sentence off
- Build sand castles in the sand pit in the garden
- Water the garden with her teeny weeny watering can and dig mud with a spade and scoop mud into the wheel barrow or into her tiny buckets
- Throwing the bean bags into a big hoop shouting the colours of the bean bags
- Playing Simon says
- Painting our hands and stamping them on paper
- Water play – where I would throw toy shapes and ask her to scoop up a triangle or scoop up a circle
- Shopping game – where I had a toy trolley and would empty the toy food/items and spread them around the room into a “fruit section” a “cake section” a “toast section”. I would then say “Aara get me an orange or water melon” and she would have to place the item back into my shopping trolley or place them in her Peppa Pig kitchen fridge
- Play tea parties
- We were really fond of Ragdolly Anna who aired live on Facebook daily
- We watched Singing Hands live on zoom
- We watched Diddy signers via Zoom
- Played iPad games
Overall looking back at the lockdown, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was on furlough so this helped me be able to fully focus on developing Aara and providing her with a lot of 1-2-1 support. She learnt to identify some shapes, she is now able to identify her numbers 1 – 10 and can count to 21. I had spent so much quality time with her.
One thing I have learnt from the lockdown is if I am patient with Aara she manages to finish tasks and learn. Don’t get me wrong, there were days I wished she would go back to school, and thinking to myself I can’t do this anymore. BUT the lockdown taught me that we don’t have to do 100 things at once. Sometimes Aara wants to play with her toy piano and not learn numbers, but you can always incorporate numbers whilst she’s playing the piano too!