Helping Your Child with Autism Engage with Toys

Helping Your Child with Autism Engage with Toys

I want to address a common concern among parents of children with autism: difficulties in toy play. Many parents have shared similar experiences where their child enjoys physical play but struggles to engage with toys. We’ll explore some reasons behind this and discuss strategies to help your child overcome these challenges.

Children with autism often exhibit unique play patterns, such as insisting on playing in their own way or showing little interest in toys altogether. This can be attributed to various factors, including sensory sensitivities, motor planning, Sequencing challenges, abstract thinking challenges, and social communication issues.

Sensory sensitivities may cause your child to avoid certain toys due to lights, colors, shapes, or loud sounds that they find overwhelming. It’s essential not to force them to play with these toys but instead introduce them gradually while engaging in rich interactions. This can help make the experience more enjoyable for them over time.

Motor planning and sequencing difficulties may hinder your child’s ability to engage with toys as they struggle to understand how to use them or in what order to play. Encouraging play at appropriate developmental stages and providing constant interaction to solve problems can help overcome this challenge. (DIR Floortime FEDC 4)

Children with autism may also find it challenging to engage in pretend or imaginative play due to difficulties with abstract thinking and understanding symbolic representations. This skill typically emerges at a later developmental stage, so it’s essential to be patient and supportive as your child progresses. (DIR Floortime FEDC 5 & 6)

Additionally, social communication issues may still impact your child’s ability to enjoy interactive play with toys, leading them to prefer solitary or parallel play. Focus on being interactive yourself during playtime and emphasize the enjoyment your child experiences rather than their performance.

If your child currently prefers physical play over toy play, continue to engage with them in ways that bring joy and connection. In future newsletters, we’ll explore strategies to encourage toy play and further support your child’s development.

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