Mar 20, 2016

Why Structure the Play for Students with Autism? (Play Series Part 2 of 3)

In the last post, the discussion focused on why we should teach play skills to students.  However, it is important to remember to structure the play period for the child. What does structuring your play session accomplish?

For one, it helps establish some clarity for the student.  Clarity makes it easy for them to see what the task is.  Second, structuring the play session helps with the fact that some children have trouble with  organizing.  The adult can organize the play session, prepare the correct materials and serve as a guide for the student. Third, some students with autism have difficulty with sequencing events. Providing visual cues or reminders may help students needing to sequence during play. Using an interactive notebook before the play period to show the sequence of the play skill may help as well. 

This Play Skills Interactive Notebook section focuses on teaching the sequence of steps for playing with cars.    

The student glues in the number strip, then glues in the steps for playing with a car.

Another reason for structuring the play session for students with autism is to teach the rules and directions in a game. It is kind of hard to play a game if you do not know the rules.  Within the structure of the play session, you can teach the rules of the activity or you can review the rules ahead of time, as is shown in the picture below.
 Special Education & Autism Interactive Notebook – Play Skills (Part 1)

Limited imitations skills are another reason to structure play. Students who can imitate are likely to be better at playing and interacting with others. They tend to be watching and learning by doing what others are doing. Some students have not gained this skill, but they can usually gain this skill when taught.  It takes a structured, systematic approach to try to teach this skill. Additionally, as mentioned in the Why Teach Play Skills to Students with Autism post, building joint attention in students who do not currently have joint attention skills is important.  Structuring your play can help teachers and parents to focus on this skill.

Have Fun!!!

Play Skills Interactive Journal

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