Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pretend play

We have been in California for the last three weeks.
Cousins are the best.
Older patient cousins are amazing.
Max mimicked them.  He observed their behavior and watched what they did.  By the end of the three weeks he had more words and was even trying new foods. 
If this is ANY indication of how pre-school is going to be I am super excited.
Max is very lucky to have such good role models in his life.

Pretend Play

"Young children learn by imagining and doing. Have you ever watched your child pick up a stone and pretend it is a zooming car, or hop a Lego across the table as if it were a person or a bunny? Your child is using an object to represent something else while giving it action and motion. But this pretend play is not as simple as it may seem. The process of pretending builds skills in many essential developmental areas." -Scholastic Magazine

Max has never done pretend play until this last trip to California.  He is just starting, but any movement forward is progress and we get very excited.  He started pretending to be on the phone, pretending to brush his stuffed animals hair and even feeding a stuffed baby.  He knows what to do, and is pretending to do them.  He usually will come and "show" us his new found skill and then go back to playing with cars or trucks, but we get overly excited.

Children on the autistic spectrum have a very hard time in social situations and pretend play is very social.  Some children pick up pretend play quickly and others, like Max, don't.  He has never showed an interest in anything other than his cars and trucks and things that move.  

Pretend play is important for three major reasons:
1. Imitation skills. Typically-developing children watch how others play with toys and imitate them. For example, a typically-developing child might choose to line up blocks one next to the other the first time they play with them. But as soon as the typically developing child sees others build with the blocks, he will imitate that behavior. A child with autism may not even notice that others are playing with blocks at all, and is very unlikely to observe others' behavior and then intuitively begin to imitate that behavior.
2.  Symbolic play skills. Symbolic play is just another term for pretend play, and by the age of three, most children have developed fairly sophisticated tools for engaging in symbolic play both alone and with others. They may use toys exactly as they're designed -- playing "house" with a pretend kitchen and eating plastic food. Or they may make up their own creative pretend play, turning a box into a fortress or a stuffed animal into a talking playmate. Children with autism rarely develop symbolic play skills without help: They may enjoy placing engines on a track, but they're unlikely to enact scenes, make sound effects, or otherwise pretend with their toy trains.
3.  Social communication skills. In order to be successful in pretend play and imitation, typically developing children actively seek out engagement and communication, and quickly learn how to "read" the intentions of other people. Children with autism tend to be self-absorbed, and have little desire to communicate or engage with playmates.

Here is a great article on pretend play and Autism.

California and Cousin David.

Cousin Andrew graduated from High School.
Pretending with his trucks instead of just lining them up.
But always with a lot of concentration.
Pretending to fix things like Bob the Builder.
Pretending to work like Daddy.
Bottom line - Family rocks.  Learn is amazing.  Growing together as a family with understanding is so important.  Max is so lucky to have a supportive group in his life all over the country.

1 comment:

  1. This is a HUGE milestone. So incredible. I'm glad you had the opportunity to immerse Max in that environment for so long. So much to learn.