Should toys be hidden from children with autism and developmental disabilities?
When treating children with developmental disabilities and autism spectrum disorders at home, what should be done with toys? There are many questions and concerns about this.
The conclusion is different for every child!
Because children with autism differ according to their level and developmental state, I would like to talk about how to distinguish between a child with a toy and a child with a toy that is hindering their development.
There are dangerous opinions when it comes to toys. A simplistic view is the most dangerous. There is not only one treatment, but all aspects are necessary for the growth of human life and must be combined as a whole. The most dangerous argument is the repetition of a simple argument. The person who read only one book is the scariest. This means that people who read one book about a topic and believe and follow the one argument presented in that book are more terrifying than those who have read several books.
– Do I have to put away the toys permanently?
Children with autism should remove their toys because they are immersed in them and do not interact with people. There’s an argument that. The problem is that they clean up everything they want to sense. It keeps the child out of touch with the sensory object even though it develops. When a child looks at a book, he or she cleans up all the books, and when he or she plays with a car, he or she cleans up the car, and he or she gets immersed in it and gets rid of all the toys he or she plays with. If this continues for a long time, there can be an experience-limiting problem in the intelligence development of autistic children. You have to change this plan at a certain point.
– Do I need to provide my child with an experience to play with a variety of toys?
I think that playing with various toys is helpful for cognitive development, but the problem is that if toys are provided to autistic children who have not yet formed social skills, it works as a reinforcement of immersion. At a point in time when cognitive development is not functioning well, the supply of toys in large quantities becomes a problem. In other words, it is detrimental to social development for autistic children who are weak in social development.
These single claims and ideas are wrong. It is different for each child with autism and depends on the child’s developmental status. It’s important to have clear standards for when to put away toys and when to give toys to children, but toys overall are not bad. There are also positive ideas about toys. A positive role toys play in the development of children with autism is that they expand their senses. Using a tool helps to expand the senses in a variety of ways because the human sensory system has limitations. The more you use and play with toys, the more your perception and intelligence expand.
In addition, toys expand imaginative play. Playing with toys using a detailed story is beneficial to expand imaginative play, for example, playing with a doll who goes to a party or playing a car racing. Imaginative play consists of developing high-functioning logic and improving learning ability. Children with autism can develop cognitive development, intellectual development and logical development as they create more diverse and complex plays using toys. So, at some point, the active use of toys is essential in the treatment of autism spectrum disorder or developmental disorders.
There is also a negative role for toys. It may intensify sensory addiction
“The child reads books all day.” , “They look at the wheels all day.”
Toys can reinforce the simple repetitive addiction to play, which can interfere with social development.
The real negative for children with developmental disabilities is that parents tend to leave their children with toys rather than play with their kids. If you can reduce the negative roles and reinforce the positive ones, it is the right way to deal with toys.
When will toy use be helpful for children with autism and developmental disabilities?
The problem with children with autism is that they have no interest in people and focus only on things. So, when a child with autism is severely autistic, toy play is bound to further diminish interest in people. At some point, you’ll have to put away the toys and create a situation where you’ll have a face-to-face with your child. In this time, it is necessary to create a space where the only people present are the child with autism and parents. Creating such a situation provides an opportunity for the child to develop play with people. In this time, toys must be removed.
When do toys begin to make a positive contribution to the development of children with autism?
It refers to the point in time when a toy becomes recognizable as a game played with people rather than the toy itself. For example, would you like to read a book alone or read a book together? Using a book as a tool to create interactions between child and parents. This should be explained in a way that can be understood and reacted to as a book shared with mom and dad, not the book itself. In other words, it should be possible to maintain interest and interaction with people even while playing with toys. Two criteria arise here.
1. It should be possible to actively make eye contact with the parents and to maintain the gaze with affection for parents.
2. It should be possible that the child is able to quickly imitate their parents social behaviors while interacting
When these two criteria are met, children with autism are able to interact with toys. even when parents are present and play with them based on the inteaction with their parents. Until the two criteria are achieved, all toys should be removed, and face-to-face play with parents and physical play should be focused on. When a stable development is achieved, play expansion should be attempted with toys.
What to do after parents reach the point where children with autism need toy play?
Ask the child
– Which toy would you like?
– How will you play with the toy?
The decision should reflect the developmental stage and sensory state of the child with autism and start with the child’s favorite toy. If a child likes books, she/he should start with books and if they likes dolls, they should start with dolls. Respect the way your child plays with the toy and begin to engage with it. When you have created enough interactions with one toy, you should increase them one by one. When one of your favorite toys can expand into interactive play with your child, you can introduce another toy and expand the play with two.
If your child has problems with social development, put the toy away and when the above two criteria are met, bring the toy back and expand play with your child!