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When a child with ASD doesn’t know how to play

If you have children in your centre who exhibit challenging behaviours, they may need to be taught how to play and interact.

SDN’s Professional Learning workshop “Teach me to play and interact” supports early childhood educators to break down the steps to interaction and play so they can identify ways to support children with ASD to play and interact with others.

Learning through play is at the heart of every early educator’s practice. Play helps children to grow physical, emotionally and cognitively. In play children learn to negotiate social interactions, and play also helps develop a positive sense of self.

We often think that play comes naturally, but what do you do when a child doesn’t know how to play?

Many children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or developmental delay don’t know how to play and interact. This presents a further barrier to their growth and development and often results in the child exhibiting challenging behaviours.

Christine Zuvela, who has a master’s degree in Autism Studies and is director of SDN’s Beranga Lighthouse, a specialist centre for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, says that play and interaction are complex.

“There is a lot going on when a child is playing and interacting,” Christine said. “During this session we help educators to identify the 6-7 steps to engaging in play as well as interaction. This is often a light bulb moment for educators who realise that their most challenging children are not even making it to step one.”

“We know everyone learns differently,” Christine continued. “Many of the strategies we discuss are applicable to all children.”

One of the most important things educators learn in this session is to identify the stage the child is at and then think outside the box to develop creative strategies to support that child.

“For example,” Christine says. “If a child is continually walking into the block area and tipping out all the blocks it may be a sign that they don’t know how to start playing with the blocks. At SDN Beranga we might start by setting 1-2 blocks up like a tower for the child, modelling a way forward for them. We also use visuals, to show them the kind of tower they can build.”

“If there is a child who is continually pushing other children, it might be because they don’t know how to get other children’s attention to play with them. We use visuals, model behaviours and give teach them strategies to interact.”

Teach me to play and interact consists of one two hour session and is running at the following times:

  • Wednesday 18 October 2017| Time: 6.30pm-8.30pm | Location: SDN Northern Suburbs, 8 Rodborough Ave, Crows Nest
  • Wednesday 6 December 2017 | Time: 6.30pm-8.30pm (Arrive by 6.15pm for a tour) | Location: 128 Hartington St, Rooty Hill

Book online

You are encouraged to enrol in “Understanding Behaviour” before undertaking “Teach me to play and interact”, but it is not essential. Next sessions for Understanding behaviour are:

  • Wednesday 22 November 2017 | Time: 2.30pm-4.30pm | Location: SDN Head Office, Broadway

Book online