Mar 19, 2016

Why Teach Play Skills to Students with Autism? (Part 1 of 3)

Autism, by definition includes difficulties with social  skills, communication skills and sometimes behavior skills.  Although not everyone with autism has difficulty in all of these areas, each of these areas affects the ability to play.  Joint attention, which is the shared focus on an activity or an object is absent from many younger individuals with autism (until it is taught.)  However, joint attention is needed to learn new skills, to share emotional states, to imitate actions and to learn.  The hope is that if you increase joint attention, you will increase the other skills as well.  One way to increase and teach joint attention in students could be through play.  


I always wondered how I could target the play skills of students in a more structured and focused way. Then, I started to see the increase of teachers using interactive notebooks for topics like reading, science and math.  It dawned on me that this might be a good the way to approach teaching play skills to students with autism.  We already know that most lessons for our students require direct instruction, then practice. So why not for play?  Enter.......the Play Skills Interactive Notebook!!!

This Play Skills Interactive Notebook (Part 1) is made up of activities that are meant to be worked on prior to the play period.  They are meant to build the student's vocabulary and skills related to playing.  After they topics are addressed in the notebook, then it is time to practice the skill in a real structured play situation.  The topics covered in Part 1 are:

Imitation Skills
Play Skills
Cause and Effect
Cars and Trucks
Water Vehicles

Students can cut and paste the items into their notebooks.  For example, one page has them sort pictures of children working and children playing.

Another activity has students coloring in letters to spell P-L-A-Y, then gluing them inside to make a mini flap book.

Cause and effect is addressed by having students make a flap up foldable.  They choose an animal to open the flap for, and then, the student or the adult make the animal sound.  This can be expanded by writing the name of the animal on the inside of the flap.

Matching is included as well.  For this section of the interactive notebook, the students have to match 4 words related to playing.

While getting there, they work on pasting skills.

They also work on scissor skills during this activity.

Best wishes and have fun playing!!!

Click for here to see the Play Skills Notebook

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