What's the best type of play for your child with autism?

Credit:  American Land Company on Flickr
Play is important for all childrens' development, including those on the autism spectrum.  If you know the types of play your children with autism enjoy the most, you can use this as a reward. 

As noted in a recent study,  it can be challenging for parents and teachers to find play activities that appeal to children with ASD. Kathy Ralabate Doody, PhD from SUNY Buffalo and her colleagues set out to discover the types of play preferred by children with autism.

The researchers found children with autism prefer: 

  • Play involving "strong sensory input and feedback"
  • Play with "repetitive movement or motion"
  • Play with "cause/effect attributes"

The study also discusses the types of play liked least including:

  • "Pretend play activities"
  • "Arts and crafts"

The methods undertaken for this study were unique in that:

  • the children had the freedom to choose what activity they wanted to play. 
  • there was no prompting by adults
  • the children were observed in a real play environment, a children's museum

The study's authors want their findings used to promote inclusive activities involving children with autism and their peers.  The authors also think the information can be used to promote positive behaviours by allowing the child's preferred play as a reward.

The study, Preferred Play Activities of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Naturalistic Settings, is published in the North American Journal of Medicine and Science.

For more information see:

Preferred Play Activities of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Naturalistic Settings 

Children with ASD demonstrate play preferences in a children's museum


©Mary M Conneely T/A Advocacy in Action

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