Why play is important for autistic kids

Play is a way for autistic children to learn and have fun, just like other children.

There are six types of play that can be found, and they all develop in stages.

  • Exploration play
  • cause-and-effect play
  • Toy play
  • Positive play
  • Physical play

Play pretend.

You can help your child develop their play skills. This will also help them learn new skills and talents. These skills are essential for your child’s development. These skills include the ability to observe the world, copy others and share them, to take turns, think and feel like other people, and communicate. Grapevine.dk provides many entertainment escape room spil products which can be downloaded direct to host fun events, kids’ birthday parties, and happy get-togethers.

Exploratory play

Exploratory play refers to children exploring objects and toys rather than playing with them. For example, a child might feel a teddy bear or chew a block, or look at the hands of a doll.

This type of play helps children discover about the world around them by exploring shapes, colours and sizes.

Encourage your child to discover the objects around them in everyday activities. This will help autistic children with autism. You could encourage your child, for example, to take a bath and splash water around, use soapy fingers to rub the water between their fingers and pour water from a cup.

Cause-and-effect play

Children play with toys that require an action to produce a result, such as pressing a button to play music. This is called cause-and-effect.

This type of play helps children understand that their actions have an effect and allows them to take control of their play. This can allow your child to mimic what you do, take turns, and ask for your help.

This type of play can be helpful for autistic children. You could have each other press a button and then push it down again.

Toy play

Toy play refers to learning how to use toys the way they were intended. For example, you can push a car, bring a phone to your ear, or throw a ball.

Toy play can help your child to develop problem-solving, creativity, and thinking skills, depending on the toys they like. Playing with your child can help your child learn to copy, take turns, share, and so forth.

Here are some ways to help your autistic child play with toys:

Sit down in front of your child to allow them to look at you and communicate with you. It’s easier to engage your child with play.

Give your child two to three toys that they enjoy. You can give your child options, but it won’t be overwhelming.

Your child can lead the play. You could also spin the car’s wheels if your child is doing so. Turn the car upside down and then run it across the floor, saying “Brrm, brrm”. If your child enjoys opening and closing toys’ doors, you can start by doing this. Then add dolls that walk in the doors.

Encourage your child’s participation in the game if he or she doesn’t like it. Perhaps you could say, “Your turn to drive that car.” Place your child’s hand on the car and then move it across the floor.

Reward your child. Positive feedback and praise are important. Good job!’

You can show your child videos of children playing with toys. This will give your child some ideas on what to do.

Constructive play

Children build things or create them through constructive play. This involves working towards a goal, such as completing a puzzle, building a tower from blocks, or drawing a picture.

This type of play is great for children to practice motor skills, problem-solving skills and creativity.

Showing your autistic child how to do something can encourage constructive play. You could show your autistic child how to build a tower using blocks, or use photos or pictures to demonstrate how to make a tower.


Physical play includes running, rough-and-tumble and other activities.

This type of play helps your child develop gross motor skills and whole-body exercise. This can be an opportunity for your child explore their surroundings and interact with others.

Information about encouraging this type of play can be found in our articles on movement for preschoolers, outdoor play, and movement for toddlers.

Play pretend

Pretend play refers to children using their imaginations while playing. This type of play includes pretending to feed a pet bear, pretending that a superhero is driving a car or pretending that the couch is a sailboat.

Children can pretend to play in order to develop communication, social skills and language. Understanding what others think and feel is one of these skills.

These are some tips to help an autistic child with pretend playing:

Your child can model simple pretend actions such as riding a horse, driving a car, or playing with a drum.

Divide pretend play into steps. To help your child understand the steps, you can either use written or visual instructions. It might be fun to make it funny. You might try something different, such as using a hairbrush to feed your teddy bear instead of a spoon.

Role-play is encouraged by having your child and other children act out a favorite story. Assemble costumes for the children and encourage them to suggest changes in the voices and gestures of the characters.

Play for autistic kids: Tips to make the most of it

These are some tips for you and your child to get the most from play.

Encourage your child to play in different settings. If your child enjoys building Lego, you can encourage them to play at a friend’s place. Recognize your child for using their skills and playing in new places.

Observe your child all day long and pay attention to the moments when he or she is interested in an activity. These are great times to learn and teach.

Play can help your child learn everyday skills. Play can be used to help your child learn how to dress up, such as dressing a doll and changing out of dresses.

Play with your child. Instead of trying to direct the play of your child, you can join in. Be aware of signs your child may be losing interest or is becoming bored. It is important to know when to stop and when you should change.

You can work with your child’s learning and thinking strengths. You can use pictures to show the steps of a game or activity, for example, if your child is visual learner.