Being Playful Can be a Goal

“As parents and caregivers of children on the autism spectrum, there are literally hundreds of goals we could focus on right? IEP goals, speech goals, PT and OT goals, self-help goals, academic goals… the list goes on. It might sometimes feel like we could spend a lifetime working on all these goals and never be finished.

“What if one of the main goals that we could implement when we were around our children was for US TO BE PLAYFUL? What if we made FUN the priority in everything we did with our children? What if we cultivated a SENSE OF DELIGHT as we modeled new skills? Or INJECTED JOY into everything we encouraged our children to try? The chances are, that our children would be left with a positive association with what we were helping them with. And, MORE IMPORTANTLY, a sense of enjoyment and ease about their experience with us. This is so fundamental to our children’s ability to learn from us and what’s more… us being playful requires zero effort from our children!

“Here are three ways to practice being playful around your child:
1) “Make up a song about what you are encouraging your child to do. For example, let’s say they love Justin Bieber and you are helping them say the word bubbles you could sing ‘DON’T YOU GIVE UP, NO NO NO, I WON’T GIVE UP NO, NO NO, TELL ME BUBBLES! TELL ME BUBBLES!’ As you blow bubbles across the room for them.

2) “Incorporate stuffed animals, puppets, or figurines. For instance, if you are encouraging your child to pee in the toilet, pretend to take each of the animals or figurines to the toilet for a pee. Entertain your child, by pretending the animals are peeing with added sound effects. Make the animals cheer each other on for peeing in the toilet.

3) “Use slapstick humor. If you are inviting your child to try new foods, you can nibble on all the different new foods and then pretend each food gives you a funny, silly reaction. Some examples could be sneezing broccoli; hiccupping green beans; or dancing carrots.

“Please post your ideas in the comments below about what you have done to incorporate being playful into your time spent helping your child.”

Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher

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