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Play is essential for kids because it is a way for them to learn, build physical and social skills, and inspire creativity.
However, play for autistic kids may be different. Kids with autism are often repetitive with their play and may prefer to play alone.
Even though their play may be limited, it doesn't mean there are no benefits of play for autistic kids.
One of the benefits includes promoting social skills.
Helping an autistic child develop social skills can be a way to provide support for autistic children.
Encourage your child to interact with other kids during play to help them develop excellent social skills.
Also, play develops and improves creativity in autistic kids.
Children with autism may experience difficulty with being creative and using their imagination due to their repetitive behavior and interests.
Nonetheless, engaging in play can positively impact their creative skills.
Furthermore, play helps to improve gross motor skills.
Gross motor skills involve the movement of body muscles to perform tasks.
Thus, by playing, children are able to exercise, keep their bodies fit, and aid their physical development.
Read on to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of play for autistic kids:
One of the benefits of play for autistic kids is that it promotes social skills.
A natural way for a child with autism to develop social skills is by play and interaction with other people.
As a parent, you can promote social skills by participating in one-on-one play with your child or encouraging play between your child and other friends or siblings.
Playing with your child at home will give them the confidence to engage in social situations.
Similarly, encouraging your autistic child to interact with other children through play allows them to practice communication, sharing, and teamwork.
Children must learn that play also involves sharing their toys with others and asking others for their toys before taking them.
It is easy for children to pick up social skills around them, but children with autism may have difficulties with social communication and interaction.
They may find it hard to respond when spoken to, understand gestures and body language, listen to other people without interruption, and make friends.
However, with play, they can develop the necessary social skills to thrive in the social environment.
Among other benefits of play for autistic kids is the development and improvement of their creativity.
Every child needs to develop and express their creativity, and engaging in creative activities can be an outlet for those struggling with emotional regulation and expression.
It may be difficult for autistic kids to be creative and use their imagination due to their repetitive and restrictive behavior.
However, engaging in creative and imaginative plays can help their creative juices flow.
Also, engaging in creative and imaginative plays can improve their social, emotional, and cognitive development.
Playing with toys like building blocks and using them to create shapes and structures can positively impact their thinking and engage their imagination.
Furthermore, playing with other children can also help them build creativity as it provides an opportunity to brainstorm and learn new ideas.
They may start to emulate and model the creativity and imagination of others.
One of the benefits of play for autistic kids is the improvement it brings to their gross motor skills.
During play, children are able to engage in physical activities that require whole-body movement and stabilizing the muscles, thus improving their motor skills.
Physical activity is particularly important for autistic children as it reduces the risk of low muscle tone, decreases hyperactivity, and strengthens their muscles.
Exercising also helps release chemicals like endorphins in the brain, which triggers a positive feeling in the body.
Being physically unfit can impact an autistic child's ability to engage in physical activities such as sports.
This may also limit their interests and opportunities to interact with other children and potentially hamper social development.
Furthermore, childhood is a critical and sensitive period in human development.
Therefore, autistic kids need to engage in physical activities from an early age, as early intervention can impact their overall muscle development for the future.
Children with autism tend to suffer from anxiety and may experience difficulty managing their emotions.
During this period, it can be difficult for parents/caregivers to intervene and provide support.
However, by teaching a child calming techniques through play, you can train them to manage emotions and overcome difficult situations.
The calming effect play brings is one of the benefits of play for autistic kids.
Play may serve as a means for an autistic kid to destress and relieve tension.
Playing with their favorite toys or friends will help to ease the intense emotions they might be experiencing and allows them to have fun.
Also, playing with sensory toys can help children with autism relax and focus.
You can get your child sensory toys like soft "squeezy" balls, play dough, and fidget toys, to serve as a physical or sensory outlet during uncomfortable situations.
Furthermore, activating muscles and exercise during play can provide sensory input and potentially create a sense of calm.
Running around the playground or playing ball with friends or siblings helps the brain release serotonin, which is responsible for stress relief.
One of the benefits of play for autistic kids is that it teaches them cause and effect.
Knowing and learning about cause and effect helps autistic kids understand that their actions have consequences.
Therefore, they should be careful with their actions.
Cause-and-effect play is a type of play for autistic kids that involves playing with toys that need them to perform an action to get a result – for example, pressing a button to play music or controlling a toy car with a remote.
This type of play teaches children that their actions have effects, and knowing that a toy would not work if they do not operate it may give them a sense of control and responsibility in their play.
When your child understands that their actions have consequences, it helps to reduce impulsivity and encourages them to think before acting.
Learning about how their actions have consequences at a young age may impact an autistic child's overall development and decision-making abilities as they grow older.
They grow to become to be more cautious and observant of their actions.
Providing support for autistic children can be as simple as allowing them to play.
Engaging in play activities can improve the behaviors and emotions of an autistic child.
Always encourage autistic children to participate in play activities as it is beneficial to them.
The benefits of play for autistic kids may include promoting social skills, developing and improving creativity, improving gross motor skills, serving as a calming technique, and teaching them about cause and effect.
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