Who said being autistic means you can't have fun? Actually, it's quite the opposite. For children with autism, play can provide a fun and natural way to develop their social, emotional and cognitive skills. Through play, children can practice important social interactions and communication, improve their sensory integration and motor skills. However, as these are areas where autistic children may struggle, finding the right activities to engage them can be a challenge. Here are four types of play that you can use to help with your child's development:
1. Physical Play
Physical play involves any activity that gets the body moving, such as running, jumping, and climbing. This can improve motor skills and coordination and provides a great way to release energy and reduce anxiety. You can try playing catch with your little one, go for a walk or even jump on a trampoline.
2. Structured Play
This can involve games or activities that have specific rules and goals such as board games. These games can help children learn to take turns, share, communicate and cooperate once done in a structured and supportive setting. Try engaging in a game of Uno or Snakes and Ladders with your child.
3. Pretend Play
Pretend play involves using the imagination to act out scenarios and play different roles. This type of play can help children with autism develop social skills. You can set up a play kitchen, dress-up corner, or create a puppet show to encourage pretend play.
4. Sensory Play
Exploring different textures, sounds, and sights through play can have a similar effect to sensory integration therapy which works to help children who may struggle to process sensory information. Try introducing your child to play-doh, sand, water or even create a sensory bin with different materials.
Remember, each child with autism is unique and may have different preferences for play. It’s important to observe your child’s interests and abilities and adjust activities accordingly. Play should be fun and engaging for both you and your child, so don’t be afraid to get creative and try new things!
Do you have a child with autism? What kind of play activities do you use to engage with him/her?