A number of different therapies can be beneficial to improving the social and motor skills of an autistic child. Some examples include Applied Behavioral Analysis and Pivotal Response Training. Methods that include your child’s favorite playtime activities can be effective for improving their symptoms if used in a way they respond well to.
Play-based therapy can help with your child’s skills in the areas of communication, fine and gross motor development, joint attention, peer socializing, patience, following directions, and much more. Play therapy may be structured in certain ways that children with autism respond well to.
Though behaviors and symptoms vary widely amongst the spectrum, children with asd tend to exhibit “stimming” tendencies. Stimming refers to repetitive behaviors that may serve to comfort the child. Children with autism also commonly prefer rigid structure in their daily activities and often have difficulty when patterns change and things do not play out as expected. Implementing play-based methods can help them cope with unexpected situations, and can improve their sense of security in general.
Here are some tips for using play therapy effectively with a child on the autistic spectrum:
1. Start out on the same playing field.
The child will respond better if they are coaxed out of their comfort zone slowly, not forced into it. Take it one step at a time for the best outcome; do not expect anything to happen overnight.
2. Participate in activities you know they already enjoy.
You can do this by watching the child and mirroring their behavior. Imitate what they are doing. He or she will feel like they are part of something when you actively participate.
3. Make small changes to their activities to expand their thinking.
Again, start with small steps. For example, if the child likes playing with toy cars, take one of the cars and make it do something new.
4. Work up to making them more comfortable with sharing.
If your child does not respond well when others touch their belongings, slowly increase the amount of interaction you have with them that involves taking things away.
5. Communicate even if they do not respond.
For a child who struggles with verbalization, getting the words out can be a challenge. Comment on your child’s activities even if they do not converse back.
6. Show them their needs are important to you.
Try to offer them things they might want often. If they are comfortable and enjoying themselves, they will learn to associate you with positivity.
7. Be fun, enthusiastic, and engaging.
Show genuine interest in the child and what they are doing.
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