Courses & Workshops
Why do they play like that ???
When a child’s play seems odd to us we quickly get sidetracked and begin to think why are they doing x, y or z? We wonder why they don’t stop their toy trains at stations and let people off, or pretend that the bridge is broken or that the train is late.
Why do they insist that the track is laid out the same way every time or that it must fit together perfectly why won’t they share the carriages and why do they lie down and watch the wheels on the track in the way they do? I f we are not careful we start to back off and play the role of observer and fixer of problems and whilst we might appreciate the peace and quiet we are still wondering why they don’t.
Repetitive and circular play is a very common sort of play for children with autism spectrum disorders the child does the same thing over and over again. I remember an educational psychologist observing Ben roll a ball along a table at eye level and then watching it drop to the floor over and over and over again. The psychologist commented that, ‘Ben’s interest in gravity was truly absorbing’. Actually it could be true or it may be that the way the ball moved just interested Ben. Either way it was Ben’s favourite activity at the time and it took up a great deal of his day. Whilst Ben was doing his, ‘rolling the ball thing’ other children were experimenting with a whole range of different ways of playing with different things. Ben’s fascination with a rolling ball meant he wasn’t doing so many other things that might have been interesting if only he would give them a try.
We needed to try and make other sorts of activities just as fascinating but perhaps we should really look at what he was doing and see if we could add a bit perhaps play with a ball in the same way but roll it off the table into a bowl of water or playfully ‘catch it’ before it dropped, or we could offer a bowl of different balls for Ben to try or different slopes to experiment with what would it be like if we rolled the ball off the table onto a xylophone. Perhaps if we want to engage a child like Ben we need to take a real interest in what he is doing, try it out for ourselves and then experiment in a way that is most likely to interest Ben.
An experiment shared is a shared memory created time to get started!