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Playful Learning: Helping Children with Autism Develop Key Skills

Rudy, L. J. (2023, August 28). LEGO Therapy for Autistic Children. Verywell Health.

Play is an integral part of a child's development, providing opportunities for interaction and skill acquisition. However, children with autism often face challenges in this regard due to their restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. These unique characteristics may limit their interactions with peers and hinder the acquisition of critical developmental skills.

Child-centered play therapy (CCPT) emerges as a valuable approach in addressing these challenges. CCPT encourages children to engage in enjoyable activities of their choosing, allowing them to symbolically and metaphorically explore their emotional and behavioral distress. Through this process, children with autism may enhance their social and communicative interactions with peers, foster appropriate behavior, and engage in cooperative play, reducing inappropriate behaviors in the process.

Structured play activities offer another avenue to support autistic children, especially when they are learning early play skills such as sharing, taking turns, and interacting with peers. These activities provide clear guidelines and defined endpoints, which are particularly beneficial for children with autism. Structured play helps them understand the necessary steps, skills, and activities required to reach the game's goal, making play more predictable and manageable.

To implement structured play effectively, the initial step involves selecting an appropriate theme. Activities with well-defined goals and endpoints work best in this context, including jigsaw puzzles, puzzle books, song and action DVDs, picture lotteries, and matching games. Additionally, creating visual supports by representing each activity step with visual cues attached to a board can facilitate the process. These cues, which may consist of objects, pictures, or words, are progressively removed as the child becomes more independent, ultimately allowing them to complete the activity autonomously.


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