Play Therapy Helps Autism Sufferers
Play therapy helps autism patients in a variety of ways. It is a valuable tool that can be used to help autistic children communicate and express their feelings and needs. It can also, under the right circumstances, be a tool for helping parents learn to relate more fully to their children on the spectrum.
Play is a natural way for young children to learn and communicate. Play therapy differs from regular play in that the play therapist helps children address and resolve their own problems. They learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others.
Play therapy for children with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is just a little different than typical play therapy. Autism is largely a social-communication disorder and children with ASD find it extremely difficult to relate to others in typical ways. Play therapy helps autism sufferers and children with ASD to move beyond autism’s self-absorption into real, shared interaction. Properly used, play therapy can help children with ASD to explore and share their feelings, their environment, and their relationships with parents, siblings, and peers.
Many children with ASD use play as a way they express themselves. Their toys and actions become their words. Play can help children with ASD learn and connect with other people, both children and adults, in a format that they understand. Play therapy, when utilized correctly, can improve their social and emotional skills, help them think in different ways, increase their language or communication skills, and expand the ways they play with toys and relate to other people.
Through sessions, the play therapist will work with the child to build reciprocal skills (sharing, turn-taking), imaginative skills (pretending to feed a toy animal, cook pretend skills) and even abstract thinking skills. As the child becomes better able to communicate and relate, then additional children may be brought into the group to develop more complex social skills.
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