Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Madame Bovary’s Shop

This morning, Joaquin announced that he wanted us to shop in the playroom, so I enthusiastically decided to create a new shop for our game. He asked for it to have monsters and balls, and a new person named “Serdino”. I took note of all these requests, and decided to build more enthusiasm for our game by building a surprise store with some surprise items, and a new funny character: Madame Bovary (she wore oversized sunglasses and a scarf).

Kiki at Madame Bovary's shop

The challenge in this game was that, instead of money, Madame Bovary and her assistant Serdino, request customers to act out the items they’re buying as payment. So, rather than giving Joaquin a shopping basket (as usual), for every item he picked, he needed to give a performance for Madame Bovary, then –after consulting with Serdino– they’d put the item in the shopping box calling it purchased.

CDs I built a stage (Joaquin likes new props) and filled the store with items displaying different facial expressions and body postures. I had the monsters he built some weeks ago, CDs (empty jewel cases with magazine cuttings as covers), books, animals, the balls he requested, and a few household items I thought he’d enjoy.

In case that he didn’t perform, I had a blank notepad with which I was planning to issue vouchers for items (to give him a prize and help him feel successful, in case he didn’t feel he was). But I never had to use it. Joaquin was more than willing to act at the stage, and he did a very good job imitating the pictures.

He asked to check out a couple times, so Madame Bovary – great salesperson she is – quickly directed him to see some items he might not have seen. Joaquin stayed in the game for 33 minutes, after which he communicated clearly that he was finally done shopping, and picked up his box of purchases ready to leave.

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