It's likely you are your child's first and favorite playtime friend, so it's important that both of you enjoy it.
Learning Floortime and RDI techniques can help you engage and communicate effectively with your child during play.
The book, More Than Words: Helping Parents Promote Communication and Social Skills in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, has excellent play and engagement tips and ideas.
You can also learn how to engage your child in activities by observing and modeling how your child's speech therapist or occupational therapist works with him or her.
Start with simple, physical games, particularly ones that employ repetition, sensory play, or singing -- such as bouncing on an exercise ball, or swinging. Keep play sessions brief and take the breaks you both need. End on a success.
Provide lots of close, friendly contact. If your child is on the floor, you get on the floor, too (or in the sandbox or swimming pool!).
Be at his eye-level and no further than arms-length away.
Boundaries and closed in spaces can be helpful when you are trying to engage him. You can create boundaries with sofa cushions, for example. A ball pool has natural borders.
Choose small playgrounds with fences rather than large, unfenced ones.
Sometimes the best interactions happen in closed spaces, like the car, or in a tent.
Try using toys that really look like the items they represent (such as play food), or favorite characters (e.g., Disney characters).
Relate your play with story lines from a simple story book, movie, or experience -- something your child can easily relate to.
Use visual helpers to help.
Your child may not show much interest the first time you introduce a play theme, but may be more receptive the second time, as he or she becomes more familiar with the story line and characters.
It can take a long time for a child with autism to play with peers but he may enjoy playing alongside them -- what is called parallel play -- or watching them play.
A snack, pet, or special activity can be a bridge between kids.
Younger children tend to be more tolerant and sometimes make better playmates.
Legal disclaimer: The tools and recommendations on this website are not intended to replace the information, training, and support you may receive from qualified medical and therapeutic professionals. It is the parent's responsibility to verify the accuracy of recommendations and information before implementing changes that may impact the parent's child.