How can I help my child on the spectrum play?
Autistic children learn through play, just as neurotypical children do. It is helpful to understand the challenges that autistic children face that can affect their play skills. Children on the autistic spectrum find imitating challenging, meaning they might not be able to learn just by watching others and may require additional support to be taught how to imitate.
It is important that we help children to learn play skills because play is a foundation for learning. You can get started by working on your interaction and engagement with your child. Playing with your child is a fantastic way to better build your relationship. You are your child’s best motivation so focusing on small moments of play daily is going to help your child learn!
To promote play with your child:
- Make it fun. People games are a great way to get your child to laugh and have fun.
- Get on their level. Position yourself on the floor or at eye level to promote interaction and make it more likely that your child is aware of your presence.
- Use ‘hand-over-hand’, where you put your hand over your child’s to help prompt certain play.
- Copy their actions when appropriate. Imitating your child’s actions can show your approval and make it more likely that she will imitate you or be aware of your actions in the future.
- Make it fun. Being silly and modeling fun things to do with toys based on your child’s interests can increase your child’s interest in toys and help teach play.
- Expand interests by introducing new toys or games or incorporating preferred items into play activities.
- Work on foundational skills such as imitation and matching that may help with play.