Autism is a developmental disorder that causes an impairment in the ability to communicate and interact with others while limiting some interests and activities.
Many children with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) present sensory issues, difficulties to socialize, and a preference for repetition and routines, so games and stimulation need to suit their condition.
In today’s article, we explain to you why kids with autism tend to play in a particular way.
How kids with autism play games
Children with autism are more likely than their neurotypical peers to line objects up, play by themselves, and repeat the same actions over and over again. They’re also less likely to engage in games that require make-believe, social interaction, or collaboration. Here are some of their usual behaviors when it comes to playing games:
- They prefer to play alone most of the time.
- They present an inability or unwillingness to grasp the basic rules of shared play.
- They engage in activities that seem purposeless and repetitive, like lining up objects, opening or closing doors, and other similar actions.
- They are unable or unwilling to respond to friendly proposals and invitations from both adults or other kids to play.
- They present an apparent obliviousness to other children’s behaviors or words.
- They have a difficulty to grasp the basics of symbolic play (pretend play).
Why do they play differently?
As we said earlier, many kids with ASD face challenges to communicate and interact, which affects the way they behave at games. But in addition to these, there are two other factors usually involved:
- A lack of joint attention skills: this refers to a shared focus on a specific activity, and it occurs when one person alerts another about an object using visual or verbal indications. Joint or shared attention is necessary to engage in collaborative games. Although children with autism may have trouble developing these skills on their own, they can learn them with some help.
- A lack of imitation skills: neurotypical children watch how others play games and with toys and imitate them. Kids with autism may not even notice that others are playing at all, and are very unlikely to observe others’ behaviors and intuitively begin to imitate them.
However, it is possible to teach a child with autism to play with others. Professional help and several therapeutic approaches can help them build these skills, but parents must also take an active role in the process.
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