Embedding Learning into Fun Summer Play Activities for Young Child with Autism

Embedding Learning into Fun Summer Play Activities for Young Child with Autism Teri McGill

Play is instrumental in young children developing language skills, cognition, problem solving, social, motor, empathy and negotiation skills.  According to Piaget (1972), "Play can serve many purposes and since children learn more effectively through activity rather than direct instruction, play provides an excellent vehicle for learning." Children with Autism don’t appear to play like other children.  They often appear to be disinterested in play.  There are many reason play is difficult for children with ASD:

  • Children with ASD have deficits in social, communication and imitation
  • It is often easier for children with Autism to learn static/rote skills such as colors, shapes, numbers and letters and  often prefer these activities
  • Children with ASD have a need for sameness which is evident in their preferring to use toys in rigid and set patterns
  • Children with ASD  have limited interest in objects and toys and do not spontaneously experiment or explore toys

The elaborate skills needed for play are often difficult or non-existent for children with Autism.  These include planning ahead, organizing steps, gathering toys and props, and thinking imaginatively.  Play is vital to improving skills in every developmental area.  Children with Autism often need to be taught how to play, use their language and interact with others.  Through play, children learn how to learn!  So, it is our job to teach children a variety of skills though motivating activities.  Wow! So much to teach and so little time!  So click here for some great ideas to embed teaching important skills into motivating fun summer play activities… and your child with Autism will never know you are teaching!