Children with autism require learning environments which are non-threatening and safe.  Structured settings and approaches tend to work best for these children.

And to teach play skills to kids with autism is an important calling.  These children need focused guidance which frees them to benefit from play skills as richly as other children.  In so doing, they gain insight into social realities while developing their cognitive abilities.

Baby steps

Breaking the activity you’re teaching into baby steps is the approach best adapted to children with autism.

As the child learns each step, progress to the next one.  This prevents frustration and becoming overwhelmed and assures that the portion of the skill you’ve shared will stick.

See and play

They say that children learn by what they see and this is very true of autistic children.  Seeing you perform an activity successfully encourages them to try for themselves.  

In the context of a well-developed relationship of trust (parent/child, teacher/child, therapist/child), modelling is highly effective.

Well done!

Positive reinforcement for a skill that’s been learned and demonstrated successfully builds up confidence.  

The smallest success is worthy of celebration, so be sure to add a “high five” to every little benchmark that arises.

Short.  Sweet. Often

When developing play skills with an autistic child in a structured setting, it’s important that not a great deal of time is dedicated to a single teaching session to each skill you’re teaching.

Children can become averse to the activity when too much time is spent per session.  But the child should be given ample opportunity to practice the skill to perfect it, once the skill is learned.  

Foster independence

As skills become entrenched, the role of the adult parent, teacher or therapist should slowly (but imperceptibly) recede.  The same is true of positive reinforcement. This is still needed, but at less frequent intervals.

This practice fosters independence and a sense of individual achievement.

Keep it fun!

For all children, learning something new is much easier when the adult teacher makes it fun.  This is doubly so for autistic children.

You are teaching the child to play.  At the same time, you’re building skills like reasoning, recognizing cause and effect, motor and coordination skills and communication.  

But all the child you’re teaching should detect is that what they’re doing is lots of fun and that they’re doing it with someone they love to hang out with.

Taking play skills to the world

Success in learning play skills is something to be shared.  So, once the child you’re teaching has learned to perform the activities you’ve been sharing with them, it’s safe to move it into a variety of settings and eventually, to a classroom or other environment with the child’s peers.

Using play skills in a social setting is a point of pride for children with autism, giving them the opportunity to show their chops to friends and classmates.

Fun Factory sensory gym

Teaching your autistic child play skills is fun for everyone with a Fun Factory sensory gym.  Find out more.