What is the meaning of “play”?
To occupy oneself in amusement, sport, or other recreation, to deal or behave carelessly or indifferently, to behave or converse sportively or playfully, to act or conduct oneself in a specified way.
Reading the description from the dictionary makes you think … wow, this is a hard skill to acquire, yet it comes naturally for most children, and adults as well.
For an autistic child, this is another life skill that needs to be learned, and it doesn’t come so easily for them.
During play, children learn appropriate behavior, learn the importance of the completion of their tasks, develop imagination, learn turn taking, imitation, building relationship and or friendship, learning the proper use of toys. They refine their language skills and reciprocal interaction. Since autistic children have different strengths and weaknesses, teaching them how to play has to be done according to their individual abilities and interests. It is always important to allow the child to have fun, or teach them how to have fun during playtime.
Children’ s environments should be stimulating so we can avoid boredom, yet it also shouldn’t be not too stimulating to evade unpredictability. Our goal should be to allow children the enjoyment of playing properly while learning social and other life skills through play. Children should use toys and materials in their proper, functional way.
Autistic children might not imitate others, or engage in spontaneous play though. Therefore, if they are left alone to play, their repetitive and self stimulating behavior can increase. For example, if the child likes to spin objects, they might be preoccupied spinning the car’s wheels over and over again, instead of engaging in functional or imaginative play. To avoid these inappropriate and non-functional plays one must stay close to the child to keep them focused on proper way to play.
Part Two Coming Soon …