Play at Amazing K School is good for children with Autism
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Play at Amazing K School is good for children with Autism

It is sad that we live in a time where we have to “schedule play time”.  Not just in schools do teachers have to schedule time for play but parents have to do so at home as well.  I feel like our children’s “playtime” is dwindling because of the pressures of life and because teachers need to push for a Curriculum.  We believe that play is important for all children.

But when it comes to children with Autism play become so much more important because Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) affect how play develops in the child!  And whilst children on the spectrum enjoy playing they find some types of play extremely challenging.  It is common for them to have limited play skills, play with only a few toys, or play in a repetitive way.

Play is the best possible way for an Autistic Child to learn and at the Amazing K Autism School in Johannesburg we schedule multiple times for play throughout the day to ensure our children are getting enough play time.  We even teach academics through play!

4 tips to engage children with autism in active play

  • Outdoor activities at school or with the families:  Autistic children battle with group based activities and in most cases they have motor planning difficulties, they battle to copy simple actions and they struggle with playing creatively (making up games and rules).  Outdoor time is the ideal time of the day to help children with kicking and catching skills, races, group activities, sensory integration, balance, turn taking and even communication all whilst they are having fun.
  • Set up play centres at home or in class:  During these play sessions model asking for toys instead of snatching and pushing, how to play with the different toys and communication with friends/family during the different fantasy play sessions.
  • Get onto the child’s level:  Making the “unknown” a bit more familiar will help the autistic child understand what is expected of them.  Give clear instruction and visually show the child how the toy works.  Don’t expect them to know or understand it without guidance.
  • Use their affinity when introducing a new activity:  Our children all have their favourite toys or item.  Help them gain interest in a new item or toy by incorporating the familiar into the new play session.  For example – If their affinity is animals and you want to introduce LEGO then build a house for the animals to stay in or a park where the animals can play in.  Don’t forget to communicate what you are doing.

The most important thing to remember is that it is more important for the child to engage in play then what playing appropriately is in the early phases of their development.  Play is play and our ideas of how a toy should be used should not always be forced on the child.  Allowing the child to explore is just as important as getting it right. 

Amazing K is a registered ECD and Partial Care Facility in Johannesburg. We are a private day school and therapy centre for children from age 2 years. Our learners receive the best of both the schooling and therapy world. We offer Individualized Education Programs, ABA, Speech- and Augmentive Alternative Communication (AAC) therapy as well as a full and adapted Academic Curriculum. Read more about us.

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