• Autism Help UK

How Do I Play With My Autistic Child?

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

Play is an important part of a child's development. It is a time where they can let their imaginations go wild and have fun whilst also building up fine motor skills, problem solving skills, and social skills. Playtime can be different with an autistic child, so here are a few tips to help your autistic child make the most out of their playtime.

The Concern

Play for an autistic child can be different and sometimes seem a little limited. For example, an autistic child may find joy in staring and playing with a fibre optic light for a while, watching the colours change. Whist this may be fun for your child, it doesn't provide your child the opportunity to learn skills such as:

  • learning how to share

  • listening

  • understand others emotions

  • exploring

  • following instructions

Here are a few playtime activities your autistic child will find fun and help learn the skills they need.


Tips To Help

The key to finding good development play is to find opportunities of learning in the things they enjoy. This will take time but can be more effective than pushing your child to play with things they don't like or understand. Using research from Beyer & Gammeltoft (1999) Here are few ways you can engage your autistic child in developmental play.


Sensory-Motor Play

Sensory-motor play is play based on, you guessed it, senses. Try adding any toys stimulating the senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing, as well as anything which engages movement and balance. For example, a fibre optic lights uses both sight and touch senses.


Construction & Manipulation Play

This play involves the use of toys such as building blocks, play dough, craft materials to make something new with them. You can start off slow by letting your child play with these objects with no particular purpose behind it. Such as letting your child play with play dough just for the texture. Over time, you can add purpose to the play to develop those fine motor skills. For example, you can get them to build a specific shape with their toy blocks or to organise toy rings in size order.


Pretend Play

Pretend play is such a fun way to let your child use their creativity and build skills along the way. There are different types of pretend play, so you can decide which one is more suitable for your child at certain points. There is (from easiest to hardest):

  • functional imaginative play- this is where your child will re-enact a functional action through imagination (no items needed). Such a pretending to brush their teeth or make a drink.

  • substitution- this play involves substituting one object for another and pretending. For example, pretending a banana is a phone.

  • role-play- this involves using dolls or other toys to project real life actions or events. This can be great for your child to show their feelings or to understand how they interpret others feelings.


By adding these types of play, you will be helping your child develop skills that will help them in life.


#Play #AustimPlay

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