Use a favourite toy, object or obsession to improve play, social & academic skills for people with Autism and Additional Needs.

Children with Autism usually like to play with toys in a repetitive and sometimes obsessive way making it hard to interact and join in on their play. A lack of imagination, rote and scripted play can also make it difficult to work with improving social and academic skills.

This maybe true although when we think about it, we all have our own “thing” or obsessive behaviour.
I know for myself I like to have the same colour of pegs on each piece of clothing hung on my clothes line. That’s my thing, the process takes longer but for some reason it makes me feel good.
What’s your “thing”?

So I think it is okay for children with Autism and Additional Needs to have their own thing, whether it be lining up cars or scripted play from a movie however for a short period of time, certainly not all the time.

I think an obsession or the use of a particular favourite toy in a repetitive way can be a useful tool to encourage play, social and academic skills.

As a toddler my son was quiet, never bothered anyone, just preferred to sit and watch the wheels on Thomas the Tank go back and forth. I would have done anything to get him to allow myself or his siblings join in and interact with him. I decided to use Thomas the Tank Engine as motivational tool to get him to interact with me, so that I could work on his social, imaginative play and academic skills.

Knowing my son was a visual learner, I made visuals supports of different play and academic activities (photographs laminated and labelled with velcro) and placed them in a folder that I could move around the house with a laminated choice-board and Now and Next Board.

I explained that we will be building blocks then drawing then the reward/motivation “Thomas the Tank Engine”

1. I started by placing three activity cards (2 cards I wanted him to do and the 3rd being the motivation in our case Thomas the Tank Engine) on the now and next board.

Play and social skills Autism

Using obsessions or rituals to enhance play, social and academic skills – autism

2. The first visual being blocks, after stacking a few blocks on top of one another we would place the blocks visual on the finished line.

play, social skills, academic, autism, additional needs

Using obsessions or rituals to enhance play, social and academic skills – autism

3. Point to the second visual support “drawing” and start to draw a few objects or lines etc. When you are finished drawing together then move the drawing visual to the finished line.

play, social, academic, skills, autism

Using obsessions or rituals to enhance play, social and academic skills – autism

Now for the reward or motivation…. “Thomas the Tank Engine”.

I had to remind myself that it is okay for children with autism, language or learning disorder to have their own time or their own “thing”. But I was lucky to realise that I could use what my child liked to do to motivate him to learn and accomplish new things. Let’s Play Visual Folder

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