PLAY…sounds FUN! But for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) it simply means WORK! It is very common for them to have a very limited play – playing with only a few toys or playing in a repetitive way. They can become obsessed with a particular type of toy or just a part of it and often play with objects that aren’t traditionally considered to be toys which make it hard to widen their play activities. Here are some ways on how to start play:
- Join in – if your kid loves to line up cars get down on the floor and make your own line of cars. Let them know that what they’re doing is interesting to you. Talk about what you are doing or sing songs as you go along with the kid.
- Accept the things they find engaging – start with the things or toys that are motivating to them. If they like Thomas, build train tracks, read a Thomas book, do your own story book using the characters stickers or any related activities with them.
- Widen their horizon – instead of trying to replace the object that they want to play try to think of new ways to play with those objects. Teach them the correct function of the object and expand on that. For example, the child only likes to push the car, you can do pretend play like racing, maneuvering a parking lot or garage, going into a carwash and many more.
Children with autism CAN and DO play. Just like all kids, they just need the support and encouragement to progress and get better at playing so that they can develop more complex skills.