In a study of preschool children with autism spectrum disorder it was found that this set of children were disadvantaged in the way they play.
Characteristically preschool children with autism spectrum disorder find it difficult to play as a normally developing child would. This lack of play skills can aggravate the child’s social isolation from their peers, and only underline their differences from other children.
So what is play?
- Play should be fun and enjoyable.
- Play should have no set goals imposed on it from outside influences; it should be imaginative and sometimes impulsive.
- play should be spontaneous and voluntary
- play should involve some kind of active involvement on the part of the player
- play can be solitary or enjoyed with friends
The Development of play
Children’s play should go through a number of developmental stages
- Sensory motor play, stimulation from objects, for example a baby gym.
- exploratory and manipulative play, for example Lego
- physical play including rough and tumble
- social play, playing with their peers, playground play
- pretend play or make believe
Why do children need to play?
Play allows our children to learn new skills and practice them in safe supportive surroundings.
Sensory motor play teaches babies and young infants about their own bodies and about objects in their immediate surroundings. The bright colored toys stimulate the babies mind and he/she will reach out to grab and explore the toy.
Manipulative and exploratory play teaches older infants about various objects, what they do; sound like, how they react together and how they influence the world they are living in.
Physical play, rough and tumble play, teaches toddlers and pre-school children some gross motor skills, which will provide them with the experiences of whole body interaction with others.
Social play is vast right from the mother and baby interactions to children’s make believe play, for example, playing mummy’s and daddy’s, which teaches children about social relationships in the world they live in.
Typically the autistic child on the other hand likes repetition and things to stay the same, and may display stereotypical, repetitive and stimming behaviors, mostly their play will be solitary.
Preferring their own company to that of others, an autistic child will find interactive, make believe play strange and may not understand the reasons for this kind of play.
So how do you help your Autistic child play?
One method it through direct teaching, typically children on the autism spectrum do not learn play skills naturally and like social and communication skills direct teaching is often needed.
One method of direct teaching for children on the autism spectrum is the use of social stories for autistic children.
Significantly social stories for autistic children can be implemented to help teach and re-enforce play skills and other skills the child with autism struggles with.
Social stories are short explanations using visual images, much like a comic script to detail the skill or situation from the child’s own point of view and in a manner that they will understand.
Social stories for autistic children follow set patterns, are generally easy to use and implement need no training to use and will be editable making them ideal for all.
To view and learn more about how social stories visit:
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