Helping kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder navigate play at child care


For children with Autism Spectrum Disorders or ASD, navigating free play can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. In addition to issues with voice modulation, many children with ASD suffer from pragmatic speech disorder where they struggle to navigate the responses of the other party and may keep speaking at length or fail to notice a change in mood.

Child carers can help children to navigate these situations using some of the following techniques.

Story discussion

Many stories in children's books have both a literal story path and a secondary more figurative path where a character needs to resolve an emotional issue. By using these stories as a starting point to discuss how people can sometimes use non-literal communication, you can provide a reference point for the child with ASD to return to in conversations and play with peers. You can also encourage the kids to act out certain parts of the story and ask them how they are feeling at different points in the story.

Explicit turn taking

If your child is not good at taking turns in conversation, you can practice turn taking with a specific timing device such as an egg timer. This lets both children have equal airspace in the conversation and can help the child with ASD to spend some time listening to the other child. Many games, such as popular guessing games, naturally follow this format and can be a helpful way to model the turn taking in normal conversations.

The mirror game

Get two of the children to play pretend mirrors against each other at the front of the room, and have other children shout out what they need to try and do. This can range from literal activities such as 'make bunny ears with fingers', to emotional signs such as 'make an angry face'. These explicit actions of showing emotion in facial expressions can be a useful way for children with ASD to learn facial expression of their friends, as they are often overwhelmed with verbal communications.

If you have a child that is still struggling with developing age appropriate pragmatic speech, it can often be useful to get some formal speech therapy sessions to assess the issue and develop some specific strategies to help your child. Children with a pragmatic speech issues often need to be systemically taught the formats and interactions (both verbal and nonverbal) that occur during normal conversations. So talk with speech therapy clinics, such as communiKIDS, for more information and to further help your child.


21 October 2015

Fostering Good Practice: Latest Research And News About Child Care

Hi. My name is Susan. I have five children of my own, but over the years I have cared for more than thirty foster children. You could therefore say that I am somewhat of an expert in child care! I am also very astute at selecting child care providers that offer the types of experiences which reward and challenge children. Children's social, emotional and physical development is of tantamount importance. As you can imagine, many of my foster children are quite troubled, and I always seek the latest research in order to ensure I am giving the best possible care. I have started this blog in order to share my wealth of knowledge with others who strive to optimise the childhood experience. I hope you find ideas that you can apply. Happy reading!