Play should be whatever your child enjoys. There is no such thing as age-appropriate play. There is no such thing as a must-play. There is no such thing as real play. Play is what a child enjoys, what they love to do, and what they want to do again.
“How Every Child Can Thrive by Age 5” is a TED talk by a 7-year-old girl in Australia. I think every parent should watch this talk. Molly asks people here, “What if I told you that peek-a-boo can change the world?” Can peek-a-boo really change the world?
Parents of children with autism or developmental disabilities seem to focus more on teaching and training rather than playing with them. There are reasons for this emphasis on education and training – the urgency to solve specific challenges, the pressure to catch up, limited time and money – but surprisingly, it’s also a lack of awareness of how important play is to a child’s development that can lead to sacrificing quality playtime.
It’s important to recognize that play is essential to a child’s development, whether they have challenges or not. Children learn social skills, problem-solving, creativity, and emotional regulation through play. Play is especially essential for children with autism, who may struggle to find joy in interaction and not know how to communicate with others.
What kind of play should we do, then? Remember that the play should always be something that your child enjoys. There is no such thing as age-appropriate play. There is no such thing as a must-play. There is no such thing as a must-have for play. There is no such thing as a must-have for play. There is no such thing as real play.
Isn’t my child too old to play peek-a-boo? No, absolutely not. There is no such thing as age-appropriate play; all play is of unimaginable value to a child’s development.
My autistic child only does one type of play, and I want to change it. No, wanting to do more of their favorite things is normal. Let them have fun with the play they want, and help make it more fun. Eventually, your child will invite you to play.
My autistic child won’t do anything. He doesn’t like to play. Watch, Wait, and wonder. What makes the child’s little eyelids move, what makes the child react, what makes the child laugh? We need to look for and ponder more.
Play with parents facilitates the development of a child with autism. Please play with your child, at the child’s eye level, with the child’s heart, before evaluating.
Molly Wright: How every child can thrive by five | TED (https://youtu.be/aISXCw0Pi94)