Before we teach play skills, we need to get your child’s attention. We do this by entering her world and engaging with objects she likes in the space she prefers to be in.
Parents often ask me how to get their child with autism to participate in play activities. They commonly describe how their child wanders around the room uninterested in the toys or people around her. She doesn’t make eye contact, take turn or use words to communicate. Instead she is immersed in repetitive motor tasks of flicking fingers in front of her face or wandering in circles.
To understand the mindset your child is in we’ll use an example. Imagine you are in the middle of doing your spring cleaning. The windows are open letting in the fresh air, you just finished scrubbing the inside of the refrigerator, and now you are going through the kids’ drawers to box up their winter clothes and put them into storage.
Your husband comes in saying it’s time to figure out the budget so he can plan ahead. It’s completely unrelated to what you are doing and not a very interesting task either from your point of view. So he does what we do with children, trying to convince you with “come on, it’ll be fun” and saying your name over and over until you stop what you are doing to look at him. If he does succeed in convincing you to do what he wants do you enjoy it or feel frustrated and distracted, wanting to get back to your original task?
Stop back for part two of this blog post next Tuesday when I will share a case study that will show you how to connect with your child in play.