The Importance of Play: Parten’s Six Stages of Play

Play is powerful and vital for the development of children. Play should be fun, spontaneous, and flexible to allow the child to have a healthy development. Play is an outlet for children to learn important details about themselves like their own likes and dislikes. Socially, children learn how to communicate and problem solving with peers around them. Play activities initiate academic skills like language, reading, and math. There are also specific benefits for children with ASD that range from social to attending to introducing turn taking skills. Through play children with ASD learn to build relationships, increases attending behaviors, reinforce flexibility, increases duration of social interactions, and condition the people and attention as reinforcers. Play builds the foundation for academic skills to be developed, expanding language, and increasing peer interactions.

Here are Parten’s six stages of play that children move through. It is important to remember that each child is unique and develops at their own pace.

  1. Unoccupied play looks like the child is uninterested in engaged in activities, but this stage builds the foundation for the next five stages of play. They may seem scattered in movements or wandering without functions. The unoccupied stage allows for children to manipulate materials, explore, and learn self-control in their environment. 
  2. Solitary play is the next stage in Parten’s 6 Stages of Play. This is where the child engages in appropriate play with a toy but does not engage with peers. Solitary play could look like a child rolling a car or building by themselves. By playing alone the child is preparing to play with others. The child is practicing new cognitive and motor skills, as well as exploring with toys freely. 
  3. Onlooker play stage is where the child is watching other peers engaging in play behavior but does not join in on the play behavior. It has been found that the basis is learning is through observation. This is a chance for children to observe the rules of play, different ways to play, building relationships, and using materials in other ways. They could watch a game of tag or others building a train track. Watching peers is the active part of their play in this stage. 
  4. Parallel play occurs when the child is playing close to peers, about three feet, but they are not interacting with each other. Children could be building block towers or coloring at the same table. Parallel play is thought of to be like a warm-up stage, where children are engaged in the same activities side-by-side but not yet engaging in social exchanges. 
  5. Associative play means the child is changing and developing. Two or more peers are acknowledging each other and engaged in the same play activity. They might be practicing the skills they have observed in earlier stages, like the onlooker and parallel play. Children start to become more interested in others while playing versus being more interested in the activity. 
  6. Cooperative play is based on the cooperation between peers. In this stage, each child has a specific role and should follow explicit or implied guidelines. However, cooperation is a challenging skill for young children which leads to conflict. Taking turns and sharing could be some reasons why conflict occurs, but this is completely normal. It is important to provide support for children during these times of conflict so stay close. Parents, teachers, and service providers can teach problem solving skills and healthy emotions and how to express them. 

 

Resources: 

Rymanowicz, K. (2018, October 2). The power of play – Part 1: Stages of play. Retrieved from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/the_power_of_play_part_1_stages_of_play

 

Mission Cognition, LLC. Family Training Resource 

How to Help Teach Children About Covid-19

This is a stressful and confusing time for all of us. There’s a lot of unknowns in our minds of how long our lives will temporarily be in the status they are in, with us all trying to socially distance and stay at home as much as possible. This is especially confusing for children who do not fully understand the impact of Covid-19. Asking children to wear a mask, wash their hands frequently,  no longer see friends or extended family, and having their schools closed brings about a lot of emotions and uncertainty. It can also be confusing to see others  wearing masks in the community, particularly in places where they did not previously see them such as the grocery store and gas station. 

Here are a few resources and ways that may aid in teaching about Covid-19:

  1. Tara Tuchel, a Speech Language Pathologist, has several free resource aids and social stories including stories on: what is Covid-19, Schools staying closed, distance learning, wearing a mask, and seeing other people wear masks. She even has a wearing a mask coloring book for children! These stories are made with simple concepts that can help your children become more familiarized with everything happening in their community. 
  2. Amanda Mc Guiness, an Autism Educator, has a free printable calendar with a visual “no school” icon for non-vocal children or a child that may need a visual calendar to remind them daily that school is closed for the day. 
  3. AutismSpeaks collaborated with Autism Certification Center to provide free access until June 1st  to video learning and resources to the Autism community. 
  4. The National Autism Association has several free resources including a hand washing tutorial, several Covid-19 social stories and resources for caretakers as well. 

While there isn’t much that can be done at this time to change our home status, these tools can aid in providing helpful conversation and visuals to reduce stress and anxiety. At the end of this, the hope is that we can look back on this time and remember fondly being able to stay at home and keep our health as a priority. Continue to take care of your children and those with Autism and tell them that all of their therapists and BCBA’s miss them and hope to see them soon!

Critical Steps for Starting Strong with Functional Communication Training

Every day we communicate to one another in some form.  It may be a verbal conversation, a gesture, or a picture.  Communication plays a large role in our daily lives.  Communication for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may develop aversive behaviors in order to communicate.  The goal of Functional Communication Training (FCT) is to find an appropriate way for the message to be received.  However, the first and most critical step is to know where to begin with the individual.

To start, in past interviews, when given a choice between FCT and other interventions, both the individuals and the caregivers preferred FCT.  This is one reason it has become common practice in working with individuals with ASD (Hanley et al., 1997).

One of the first steps is to find the function of the behavior.  What is it that the individual wants?  Do they want something to eat? A certain toy? Attention (Harding et al., 2009)?  Knowing what the motivation is for the individual will create a foundation for obtaining it appropriately.

The second step is to know the individual’s learning history.  If the person is able to say one-word phrases, it is recommended to start with that word and add more to the sentence at a later time.  For example:  An individual pushes items off a table.  They do this any time they want to have a glass of milk.  The individual has repeated the word milk in the past.  You see them head to the table to push the items off, you block them and then give them the instruction; say “milk”.  The child repeats the word and you immediately hand them the milk (Tiger, Hanley, & Bruzek, 2008).

Prompting is used to reach the appropriate behavior.  The caregiver needs to be sure the individual is successful in obtaining the item with the correct response.  Prompts will assure that the appropriate behavior will encounter the item before and more frequently than the aversive behavior.  It may be a physical prompt (assisting the individual to reach for a picture card instead of grabbing the item), or a verbal prompt (“Instead of whining, you can say ‘break please’”).  Depending on the individual’s learning history, different prompts may be used.  Once the behavior is displayed independently, thinning the prompts is the next step.

Having the wanted item ready is a critical step. In order to teach the new behavior, the item to access must be easier to obtain with the new behavior.  It also has to be delivered immediately after the new behavior is displayed.  This should reduce the aversive behavior.  As in the example above, saying “milk” should be easier than pushing items off a table. The item will also be delivered more frequently if it asked for appropriately.

FCT also focuses on the end goal of the individual.  The individual may start with one picture card and at the end use a full sentence strip.  The goal should be socially appropriate and understood by anyone the individual comes in contact with.  The individual may use a certain sign to indicate a specific item, but out in the community they may not be understood.  Shaping up a phrase is also one of the end goals for an individual.  A parent or provider can work on using a one word phrase and focus on shaping it until it is clear.

Using generalized or simple word may also help an individual obtain their want.  A word like “toy” or “snack” will help to reduce the aversive behaviors by then offering a choice of different toys or snacks.   Motivators change over time.  A cookie will not always be motivating, especially if they have already had five of them and are full.

Another important step is to make sure the person wants the item.  If they do not want it, they will not ask for it.  Studies have looked at both contrived and natural environments for teaching FCT.  Both showed increases in responding, but the natural environment showed better generalization and enhanced motivation.

In summary, to effectively teach FCT, you must:

  1. Know the function of the behavior.
  2. Know the individual’s skill set
  3. Prompt for beginning success
  4. Have the motivating item ready so the individual may obtain it faster, easier, and more frequently than when they engage in the aversive behavior.
  5. Know your end goal.
  6. Use generalized words to promote generalization.
  7. Know if the item is still motivating.

References:

Hanley, G. P., Piazza, C. C., Fisher, W. W., Contrucci, S. A., & Maglieri, K. A. (1997). Evaluation of client preference for function-based treatment packages.Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,30(3), 459-47.

Harding, J. W., Wacker, D. P., Berg, W. K., Lee, J. F., & Dolezal, D. (2009). Conducting functional communication training in home settings: A case study and recommendations for practitioners.Behavior Analysis in Practice,2(1), 21-33.

Tiger, J.H., Hanley, G. P., & Bruzek, J. (2008). Functional communication training: A review and practical guide.Behavior Analysis in Practice,1(1), 16-23.

Three Ways to Help Your Child Communicate

A hot topic with families generally is how to help their family member with Autism communicate. Whether a child uses an Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) device, sign language, or their voice, communication is an area that families and experts see as essential for developmental growth. In Applied Behavior Analysis, there are several ways in which communication is incorporated into a therapy session. 

The founder of ABA, B.F. Skinner broke up communication into different categories:

  • Mands- Any type of vocal communication that indicates something desired (i.e. Joel asks his mom for a cookie on his AAC device) 
  • Echoics- Vocal imitation (i.e. Scarlett’s mom says “Popcorn” and Scarlett repeats by signing “Popcorn”)
  • Tacts- labeling an item (i.e. Brody sees his dog playing outside. He says, “dog”.
  • Intraverbals- a conversation (this can be a statement such as filling in the rest of a song. For instance, Abigail’s Grandma says “Ready, set…” and Abigail finishes the statement, “Go!”)

These four types of communication are incorporated into each child’s session at some point based on their assessment level when they start services. Beyond a session though, family members can increase communication opportunities at home or in the community by doing three things: 

  1. Provide opportunities for the person to communicate. If you’re providing dinner for them, place the plate on the table but intentionally forget the fork so they have the chance to request for it. This increases the amount of times the person has to communicate. That old saying, “practice makes perfect” is actually really valid in the communication world. Give them several moments each day to practice their communication and they will learn and grow from
  2. Participate in vocal play. Even before words exist for a child, babbling and hearing sounds is beneficial. When playing with a child and their train set, make the train sounds. This will give them the option to hear and imitate the sounds that you make. This can also be used if the person babbles at all. For instance, Colt continues to say “eeeee” so his therapist says “eeee” as well. 
  3. Provide opportunities for functional communication training. This is something that can be crucial even further into a child’s development. Provide communication when they are visibly doing something to gain access or avoid something. For instance, John is watching a movie with his parents. He becomes afraid of something on the screen and hides under a blanket. His mom provides some communication for him: “John, I think you’re scared. Do you want to keep watching the movie or do you need a break?” John then requests the break. This can also be utilized for those who are non-vocal or are unable to request a break. For instance, when Addie is approached by a horse at the farm she runs away. Her mom prompts her to use her device and say “no thank you” then gives her different options of animals at the farm they can look at. Addie chooses the goats. 

Communication is a vital skill for development along with being beneficial to express an individual’s needs, wants and thoughts in the home. By utilizing these three tips, communication can flourish in one’s day to day routine even when therapy is unavailable. 

References: 

Cooper, J. Heron, T., & Heward, W. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed). New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Shane, Joseph, “Increasing Vocal Behavior and Establishing Echoic Stimulus Control in Children with Autism” (2016). Dissertations. 1400. https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/dissertations/1400

Sundberg, Mark L. (2008) VB-MAPP Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program :a language and social skills assessment program for children with autism or other developmental disabilities : guide Concord, CA : AVB Press

Autism and Higher Education

There are limited amounts of studies that show research on students with ASD in higher education.  The research that has been done indicates that students who transition into higher education can face complications, such as new situations and routines, time management, and social relationships. While that may bring some anxiety to both the parents and the student, there are multiple recommendations to help the transition and college experience more enjoyable.

  1. A Personalized Approach
  2. A Safe and Transparent Environment with Sufficient Planning and Clear Communication
  3. Academic Accommodations
  4. Coaching in Education, Student Life and Daily Living
  5. Adequate Psychosocial Support
  6. Leisure Activities and a Sufficient Amount of Rest

A Personalized Approach

Students want their voices to be heard.  They feel it would be beneficial for the staff to have the opportunity to take the students’ personal preferences into account when setting transitional goals. It could also be advantageous to have an awareness program contributing to breaking down perceived stigmas of ASD, and instead, highlights the talents of students with ASD.

A Safe and Transparent Environment with Sufficient Planning and Clear Communication

Due to new situations causing uncertainty, stress and anxiety, students emphasized the desire for colleges to provide both a safe and transparent education and living environment. To do this, support staff could familiarize the expectations of the new environments with the students. This could include a detailed description of the activities, conducting a campus tour, and identifying places the students could find peaceful. Another way to reduce stress, anxiety, and uncertainty is providing clear communication, letting the students know what is expected of them and their progress of new routines. One way to make this easier, would be to have one contact person who is familiar with ASD, whom the student could consult with during times of confusion, wanting to feel safe, or if they have questions.

Academic Accommodations

These can consist of additional time for written exams, extra preparation time for oral exams, having access to a separate room for exams, and allowing the option of doing alternative assignments instead of completing group work. This isn’t to say that no group work will be completed, but for a student with ASD who is feeling anxious or tense, having that option available could prove very beneficial. It’s also helpful for the staff to be aware that there is a diversity when it comes to ASD and that one student’s experiences might not be the same as another’s.

Coaching in Education, Student Life and Daily Living

This recommendation will help with both transitioning to higher education and the actual experience itself.  Research shows that students with ASD stated they would prefer to have one selected personal coach to help monitor and support their activities. These activities may include selecting a major, enhancing study skills, providing feedback on struggles, and providing advice if needed. As noted above, students with autism will have to collaborate with others at some point throughout their college experience, so having a coach to discuss ways to make those situations easier could be ideal.

Adequate Psychosocial Support

Psychosocial support is a typical term for non-therapeutic intervention that can help a person cope with stressors at work or in home. It is important for students to feel support from their family, most notably their parents, and this availability can help the students be able to talk to someone to prevent or cope with any stress, anxiety, or sometimes depression.

Leisure Activities and Sufficient Amount of Rest

A main strategy for handling anxiety and/or stress for students is to make time for leisure activities such as writing, watching television, running, or other areas of strong interest for that student. It’s also important to get sufficient rest, especially when embarking on a full-time course load when they enroll in higher education.

While thinking of your children going into higher education can be stressful, it’s also going to be a very rewarding time. I hope these six recommendations listed above will help ease the minds of both the student and parent when coming up on this journey of furthering their education!

 

References:

Hees, V. V., Moyson, T., & Roeyers, H. (2014, December 2). Higher Education Experiences of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: Challenges, Benefits and Support Needs. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10803-014-2324-2.

 

Measuring Behavior: The Power of Data Collection

In applied behavior analysis, data drives each decision we make. Without data, we are simply making our best guess with the information we have at hand. Often these guesses are based on our own opinion and contain subjective information derived from how we “feel” things are going. Data allows us to make objective decisions based on quantifiable information.  When data is objective, it removes one’s opinion and makes the data more accurate. It is important that we make changes based on accurate information in order to support effective behavioral change. 

Data isn’t something that’s only meant for scientists. Many fields and professionals use data including doctors, pharmacists, mechanics, teachers, and business owners. In reality, most of us analyze, search, find patterns, and make predictions with information in our everyday lives. Data is everywhere and it often drives the decisions we make without us even knowing it.

Let’s look at some examples of how we use data everyday: 

  • Checking the weather to determine what to wear for the day
  • Making a grocery list to determine what you need from the store
  • Following a recipe
  • Keeping a food log
  • Using a device to track exercise, sleep, and mood

In applied behavior analysis, we use data to measure behavior change. The goal of any behavior analysis program is to change behavior. Behavior analysts measure the effect of interventions on behavior. Once an intervention is put in place, behavior analysts watch for a decrease in problem behavior and an increase in positive behavior. The only way we know this change is occurring is with data collection. Chances are, you have been asked to complete this very important task of data collection. 

Data collection is a core part of your child’s therapy program. Data is collected each time your child has a therapy session. You might even be asked to collect data outside of therapy sessions depending on your child’s goals. Data may be collected on your child’s behaviors, new skills, treatment goals, potty, social skills, sleep, or eating patterns. What behaviors and skills are tracked and the type of data collection used is specific to your child’s plan. 

There are numerous types of data collection some of which you might be familiar with and some that might be new to you. Anytime you are asked to collect data or when data is shared with you, your child’s consultant will train you on collection and interpretation. Below are different types of data collection that may be used by your child’s team or that you might be asked to collect.

  • Frequency: the number of times a behavior or response occurs.
  • Duration: the length of time from start to stop that a behavior or response occurs.
  • Latency: the length of time from the instruction to the start of the behavior.
  • Intensity/Magnitude: the degree to which the behavior is happening. What is the impact of the behavior?
  • ABC Recording: Descriptive information about the antecedent, behavior, and consequence when observing a behavior. The antecedent occurs before the behavior and triggers it. The consequence is what happened after the behavior including how others responded. 
Date/Time Activity Antecedent Behavior Consequence

 

  • Per Opportunity: When the opportunity arises for your child to engage in a particular behavior, skill, or response does your child complete it or not. 

In conclusion, data collection is a very important piece to your child’s therapy program. Data collection is not only used to track problem behavior, but also data is collected on your child’s new skills, goals, and other adaptive behaviors. Data collection helps us to know if treatment is working. With data collection, it becomes easier for professionals to understand behavior patterns and the progress of the individual. In the end, data collection can be viewed as the most important part of your child’s treatment program because without it, effective treatment would not be able to take place. Data collection is the foundation for decision making with one’s treatment and supports your child’s success. Now let’s take some data!

References

  • Bears, K. Johnson, C., Handen, B., Butter, E., Lecavalier, L., Smith, T., Seahill, L. (2018). Parent training for disruptive behavior; the RUBI autism network, parent workbook. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 
  • Cooper, J. Heron, T., & Heward, W. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed). New Jersey: Pearson Education.
  • Kansas Institute for Positive Behavior Support, University of Kansas. 



Autism and the Holidays: 5 Helpful Strategies to Increase Success and Joy!

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is a joyful and stressful time for many. For families of individuals on the autism spectrum, the holiday may prove to have some unique challenges. It is important for families of individuals with autism to consider these challenges and plan ahead in hopes to lessen the stressful times and increase success and joy for everyone. Let’s review some helpful strategies that you might consider implementing this holiday season.

1. The Importance of the schedule

Individuals with autism thrive on a consistent and predictable schedule. When the schedule is disrupted, problem behavior may occur. While your holiday season is likely to be less structured, it can be helpful to create a schedule and remain consistent with following it. Following a consistent schedule, may reduce problem behavior. Keeping consistent wake up times, bedtimes, mealtimes, and activities throughout the day will help ensure your child’s schedule is consistent and predictable. Your child may need a visual and preparation (e.g. visual schedule, calendar) of any changes to the schedule. If your child is receiving therapy, it is important to keep therapy appointments throughout the season. 

2. Preparation for new events and changes

With the holiday season brings a time of new events and changes to the schedule and environment. These changes may be difficult for an individual with autism. Preparation for these changes it key! Preparation for new events and changes can be done in a variety of ways and should begin weeks to days in advance from the change. Some individuals may need a visual schedule or calendar that includes new events and changes that will occur. To prepare the individual, the schedule may need to be reviewed several times. Other times, a script may need to be reviewed, modeled, and practiced with the individual so they feel prepared. If you are traveling, preparation should occur. While traveling, pack your child’s favorite things to have available to keep them busy during the flight (e.g. favorite snacks, toys). It may be helpful to have your child walk around the airport in advance to get used to the environment. 

3. Parties, Parties, and More Parties: Less might be More!

Holiday parties bring many people, noises, and extra distractions that may be difficult for an individual with autism. It is important to know your child’s limits and gradually extend the amount of time spent at a party. It may be helpful to practice this situation with your child prior to attending a party by using a script. With a script you can help to prepare your child on what to expect at the party and how your child should act. You can prepare scenarios that include how to greet others, how to engage in activities, as well as what to do and where your child should go if he or she feels overwhelmed. When your child begins to feel overwhelmed, encourage your child to communicate he or she needs a break and allow your child to go to an area they find reinforcing to take a break. Asking your child to stay at the entire party might be too much at first. Reinforcing small amounts of time and then increasing the time might be the right way to go. Being successful for achieving small steps to the end goal should be celebrated!

4. Connect with your Community

During the holiday season your community may offer additional resources, support, and activities for children with autism. Your community can be a great resource during this time. Many communities offer special and free events or activities for families of children who have autism spectrum disorders. These events provide safe and understanding environments as well as a time for families who are going through similar situations to connect with one another. To find out more information about activities in your area, it can be helpful to connect with local autism groups. 

5. Reinforcement

With all the newness and change the holiday season brings, it will be important to continue to support your child’s behavior and celebrate his or her successes. If your child has a behavior plan it will be important to continue to follow it during this time. Keep in mind the ABC’s (antecedent, behavior, consequence) of behavior. The antecedent comes before behavior and triggers it and the consequence is how you or others respond to the behavior. Keep track of behaviors and note any new behaviors that occur. When your child engages in new appropriate behavior and other behaviors that you want to see, provide reinforcement. When your child is successful in a new situation or at a party, provide reinforcement. Reinforcement may occur as praise, physical (e.g. high fives, hugs, pat on the back), or tangible items (e.g. toys, trinkets, activities, privileges).  Reinforcing the behaviors that you do want to see, will increase the likelihood that the behavior will occur again in the future. 

We hope that these strategies will help your child to be successful this holiday season and that your family experiences less stress and more joy that comes with the celebration of your child’s successes. Have a wonderful holiday season!

References

  • Holiday tips. Retrieved from www.autism-society.org
  • Bears, K., Johnson, C., Handen, B., Butter, E., Lecavalier, L., Smith, T., & Scahill, L. (2018). Parent training for disruptive behavior: the RUBI autism network, parent workbook. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
  • Cooper, J., Heron, T., & Heward, W. (2007). Applied behavior analysis (2nd ed). New Jersey: Pearson Education. 



Learn to Play, Play to Learn

Playing is an integral part of daily life for children. Through playing, all aspects of development can be promoted. For example, social skills such as sharing, cooperation, and turn-taking can be targeted while playing with a peer or family member (Lantz, 2001). Play takes many forms such as running, playing hide and seek, making art, or playing dress up. In today’s blog, we will discuss the different stages of play, how behavior therapists may encourage play, and ideas on how to promote play at home.

Stages of Play (Pathways, 2018)

1)      Unoccupied Play – This is when a child explores and discovers how their body moves (e.g., moving their arms, legs, feet, hands).

2)      Solitary Play – This is when a child plays alone and may include engaging with a toy.

3)      Spectator/Onlooker Behavior – This occurs when a child starts to watch other children play.

4)      Parallel Play – This is when a child plays beside or near other children but does not play with them.

5)      Associate Play – This is when a child interacts with others while playing mainly to give, take, and share toys. However, the amount of interaction is minimal.

6)      Cooperative Play – This is when a child plays and engages with others in the same activity.

ABA Interventions

1)      Natural Environment Teaching (NET) – This teaching method involves commenting on items/activities the child chooses to do. The goal is to increase a child’s verbal behavior, as well as expand their verbal responses. For example, if a child was playing with cars, saying “Wow! Your car is going so fast! Should my car go fast or slow?”

2)      Video Modeling – This teaching methodology has been found effective to teach children with autism a variety of skills. Video modeling is when adults or peers are recorded while acting out the targeted skill (e.g., playing with baby dolls). The goal is for the student to imitate the observed actions from the video to learn the skill (MacDonald, Mansfield, Wiltz, & Ahearn, 2009).

3)      Scripts – This is a specific visual strategy often used to promote social-communicative interaction while playing. Research has shown scripts are effective in enhancing interaction among children sociodramatic play (Goldstein & Cisar, 1992). Once scripts are learned, spontaneous responses are facilitated.

ErinoakKids Centre for Treatment and Development (2012). Sample Play Script.

 Retrieved from https://www.erinoakkids.ca/ErinoakKids/media/EOK_Documents/Autism_Resources/Teaching-Play-Skills.pdf

Other Visual Examples –

Memorizing the Moments. (2013, June 17). Block Building Templates. Retrieved from http://www.memorizingthemoments.com/2013/06/block-building-templates.html?m=1

Christine Reeve (2013-2018). Playground Schedule. Retrieved from https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Playground-Schedule-and-Script-Freebie-Autism-Special-Education-923613

Tips and Ideas at Home

  • Be sure to build play time within your child’s schedule.
  • Model how to play with the materials and/or toys. For example, if playing with play dough, show your child how you are making three balls to stack on each other to make a snowman. Ask them if they can make a snowman too.
  • As the holidays are near and you might be considering what to get your child, think about presents that could encourage your child’s play, based on their current developmental skills.
  • Set screen limits.
  • Get creative! Set up obstacle courses, build a fort out of blankets, decorate cookies, make slime.
  • If available, consider attending a play group.
  • Consider enrolling your child in an organized activity (e.g., gymnastics, karate).

In conclusion, playing is essential for all children’s development. Through play, children socialize, learn, and have fun! As Mr. Rogers said, “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.”  Hopefully the holiday break provides some extra opportunities for playing and family time! Happy Holidays!

References

ErinoakKids Center for Treatment and Development. (2012). Teaching Play Skills to Children with Autism.

Goldstein, H., & Cisar, C. L. (1992). Promoting interaction during sociodramatic play: Teaching scripts to typical preschoolers and classmates with disabilities. Journal of applied behavior analysis25(2), 265-280.

Lantz, J. (2001). Play time: An examination of play intervention strategies for children with autism spectrum disorders. The Reporter, 6(3), 1-7, 24.

MacDonald, R., Sacramone, S., Mansfield, R., Wiltz, K., & Ahearn, W. H. (2009). Using video modeling to teach reciprocal pretend play to children with autism. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis42(1), 43-55.

6 Stages of Play: How Kids Learn to Play. (n.d.). Retrieved from

How Kids Learn to Play: 6 Stages of Play Development