Help Your Child Play

Play helps children develop fine and gross motor skills, language and communication skills, creative thinking, problem-solving, and social skills.

Children with autism enjoy playing, but they may play in very different ways. They are more likely to play alone, and their play is often repetitive with no particular goal in mind.

Left alone, they might not develop important skills such as sharing objects, thinking creatively, taking turns, and responding appropriately to others.

Pretend City Children’s Museum in Irvine California lists six types of play that develop in stages among young children. A summary of the 6 types of play – and how you can help your child engage in them – is below. For the full article click here.


Exploratory Play – Children will look, feel and mouth objects. How you can help: Encourage children to explore objects around them; give them sensory toys and lots of floor time.

Cause-and-Effect Play – Children play with toys that require an action to create an effect, such as pressing a button for music or a jack-in-the-box. How you can help: teach cause and effect by rolling a ball back and forth to show the harder you push, the faster it will go. Or encourage your child to build a tower out of blocks, and learn what happens when it gets too tall and starts to wobble.

Functional Play – Children play with toys according to their intended function; for example, a car is used for pushing on the floor not for simply spinning and staring at the wheels. How you can help: Start by copying what your child is doing such as spinning the wheels of a car, then take the car and run it across the floor, encouraging your child to copy you.

Constructive Play – Children will build or make things that involve working towards a goal or finished product, such as completing a puzzle of drawing a picture. How you can help: by modeling or actively engaging in the activity with your child.

Physical Play – Children use their whole body, encouraging the development of gross motor skills. How you can help: actively engage with you child in a game of tag or perhaps Simon Says.

Pretend Play – Children “make believe” and use their imaginations. How you can help: Encourage your child to act out a favorite story; as you gradually change parts of the story you can guide your child to independent creative play.


NATIONAL PLAY THERAPY WEEK is February 4-10, 2018 – it’s a time to promote the importance of play for kids of all ages. For more information on play therapy, click here.



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