Shema-Kolainu-Hear Our Voices hosted a play and socialization skills workshop this morning, November 21. Our 60 attendees came to the school to learn how to properly teach children with autism how to play with toys and integrate with their peers.
Play is important for all developing children because it teaches language, social interaction, motor skills and more. For children with autism, play can be difficult due to their tendencies to isolate themselves or interact with adults rather than other children.
Part of the goal of the workshop was to combat these tendencies with positive reinforcement. For instance, when playing, pick a toy that is related to the child’s interests and strengths. It’s important to note that once play becomes more natural and unprompted, the reinforcement should slowly decrease and more neutral toys should be integrated.
Parents can also pair toys as means of positive reinforcement. For example, give the child a boat while they are taking a bath or play music when they are coloring.
Keeping play fun and not rushing a child who is not ready to interact with peers was also discussed. If you force a child to share too early on, or if they don’t have the proper verbal skills for interaction, the experience of play can be soured. Parents should also keep in mind that their presence should fade as play becomes less forced and peers enter the picture.
If you’re interested in more information or attending a future workshop please visit our website at http://www.hear-our-voices.org/workshop.html. A certificate is available upon completion.