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Our Experience with TerraTime & Autism

In the last Experience the Wonder Blog Post, I shared about my oldest son and his experience with TerraTime over the years. You can check it out here. He has overcome many sensory setbacks, which have been exciting to witness.


Side note, I have decided to keep my children’s names anonymous out of respect for them and privacy reasons. We are delighted with TerraTime and hope our experience can also encourage you. 


This week I would like to share some words about our second child and his experience with TerraTime.

Creativity and relaxing in nature.

Our Son


First, I would like to provide some background regarding our child, so maybe you can relate. Our sweet child was diagnosed with being on the Autism Spectrum in 2016.


But before I continue, let me preface this by saying that we believe our child is more than a diagnosis. He is highly thoughtful, loving, intelligent, and one of my hardest workers, even at nine years old. As parents, we are excited to see all the Lord has in store for him. We love our son and all of our three children dearly. We are blessed beyond measure to be parents but especially their parents.


Like our oldest child, this child also participated in Indiana’s First Steps for speech and development delay. Once he graduated from First Steps, he started attending a local ABA Clinic. He also participated at a local church preschool.


By 2019, he was attending a public elementary school and receiving services. After a few years, he graduated from ABA and several other therapies.  Right before the spring of 2020 happened to the world, his kindergarten teacher, special education teachers, myself, and school staff all decided, based on testing results and clear improvement, that my son was doing so well that we would pull him from the special education room to see how he did with his class for the entire day.  Not long after that is when the elementary went to virtual for the rest of the year. 


The following school year, my husband and I decided to homeschool our three children and have ever since.  Perhaps that’s another blog post for another time.   

Children balancing on logs.

TerraTime Experience


Fast forward to our family exploring TerraTime summer camp for the first time in the summer of 2020. We are so thankful for Terra and her team continuing summer camp during such a significant time for our world.  I knew my children and our family needed TerraTime, and God provided.


As I shared in my previous post, Terra’s background in occupational therapy and working at the public school we were a part of was highly appealing.  And while my children struggled with getting dirty, I knew it was healthy for them to gently work through that and, hopefully, learn to love being outside and getting dirty.  


“At TerraTime, we are a bit old-school when it comes to learning and we don’t think that’s a bad thing. Backed by research from child development experts, we provide an opportunity for children to experience childhood learning the way it was intended to be, play-based and child-directed.” Experience the Wonder, Child-Directed Play and Learning

If you wish to learn more about Child-Directed Play and Learning, please check out this Experience the Wonder Blog Post!


There are so many incredible benefits to our children playing and learning outside.  It is pretty magical.


I know there are significant benefits to even us adults being outside more.  An area that I should work on more personally.  I did grow up in the country, though, and loved being outdoors.  My parents still live in the same home, so it is extra special to be able to take my children there to enjoy the same things.


Opportunities to explore and learn new skills.

Our Son’s Growth & Progress!


Our son was six years old the summer we tried out TerraTime’s summer camp and we have been involved with different TerraTime programs since.  Initially, I made sure to give Terra details regarding our son.  She was not intimidated, which provided even more comfort for me.  Terra, being Terra, confirmed in my mind that we made the right choice for our children. 


Our second son didn’t mind getting dirty like our oldest son.  So my goal for this child was to practice more socialization and improve his emotions. We are happy to say that after two years of consistent involvement with TerraTime, our son has continued to progress in these areas. 


Play Time


He is better about playing with other children vs. parallel playing.

Parallel play defines a form of play in which a very young child plays independently in the presence of another child or other children. Dictionary.com

I remember this child’s kindergarten teacher explicitly telling me that he was parallel playing with the other children, which, in a way, is a significant step. But I am thrilled to see him improve in this area through TerraTime.


He engages with other children and enjoys being the leader, if other children are open. However, I have had many discussions with him about not being too bossy. We are working on balancing being a leader and a listener.


I have enjoyed seeing him make progress in friendships, especially with the same children over the years. I believe he has a better understanding of what friendship looks like.


Emotions


TerraTime provides an opportunity for my children to work on relationships and work through emotions. This is probably true for all children, but I notice this son has a particular need to figure out his feelings.


Many are new to him, while other children might be further developed. For example, frustration is an emotion he is still uncertain about. He is still figuring out how to deal with frustration and is not always understanding. This program helps him healthily navigate these emotions and when he comes home, we talk them out even more.


Home Time


TerraTime is not only beneficial in the woods but has overflowed into our home and has provided excellent discussions.  I ask my children questions about their time, they can ask me questions, and we make plans together. 


Terra also sends a beautifully detailed email sharing what the children learned that day.  She provides excellent questions for us to ask them so that we can continue their newfound education at home. 

Painting in nature.

Thankful for TerraTime


Our family will continue to participate in TerraTime and work on our children’s needs during TerraTime and at home.  We will also continue to enjoy watching them love their childhood by just being children.  


We are also very thankful to the other families who participate. I think it’s fair to say that all of our children have formed extraordinary friendships.


Check back for more personal TerraTime Testimonies from my family, including myself!

If you are looking for more information on Autism, Resources, and support, I have found the website TACA very helpful.


Also, check out our affiliate site, TerraTime, Nature Play & Learning!


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