Make Play R.O.C.K.: Put Pretending Into Your Child's Play

Author(s) : Elaine Weitzman and Lisa Drake

Publisher : Hanen Institute

SKU : 5445BK

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If you have a young child with autism, you may have noticed that he has difficulty learning to play. His play may be less flexible or creative than that of other children, and it may rarely involve other people.

The Make Play R.O.C.K. booklet series gives you practical, research-based strategies for expanding your child’s play skills during everyday play activities. You’ll learn powerful ways to get involved in your child’s play and help him learn while having fun together. The Make Play R.O.C.K. Booklet Series offers practical strategies for expanding the play skills of young children with autism and other communication difficulties.

Why Is Pretend Play Important?

Pretend play is a critical part of all children’s development, and is closely tied to:

  • Language skills
  • Social skills
  • Emotional skills

For children with autism in particular, studies have shown that better pretend play skills at age three and four are associated with better language skills at ages eight and nine, and the more varied and flexible a young child’s pretend play, the more advanced his thinking skills are at ages eight and nine.

How Put Pretending into Your Child’s Play Helps

Your child’s play may not be as complex or creative as that of typically developing children. But when you add specific interaction strategies to your everyday play activities, there’s a lot you can do build his skills.

Put Pretending into Your Child’s Play helps you:

  • Understand how the development of pretend play fosters your child’s language, social and emotional skills
  • Identify your child’s stage of pretend play and his next step in pretend play development
  • Use research-based strategies to encourage your child to imitate new pretend play actions and move to the next stage in pretend play
  • Help your child apply newly learned pretend play skills with a variety of toys and in a variety of situations

Make Play R.O.C.K.: Put Pretending Into Your Child's Play provides a checklist for identifying your child’s current stage of pretend play and the next step he can take, guidelines on the best toys to use and how to use them to encourage your child’s development, concrete examples and illustrations of parents using the strategies in the booklet to build their child’s play skills and a Pretend Play Plan to help you plan your child’s next play step and how you’ll help him take it.

Is your child ready for pretend play?

Your child is ready for you to help him learn to pretend if he:

  • Is already playing with toys in the way they were intended to be played with (e.g. he 1. places a car on top of a ramp; 2. pushes a lever to make the car go down the ramp; then 3. picks up the car and puts it back on the top of the ramp.) This is called “functional play”.
  • Has already developed joint attention skills – that is, he can share a focus with you on the same object or event for the purpose of sharing his interest with you (e.g., he points to a dog on the sidewalk, looks back at you to make sure you saw it, then looks back at the dog)

If your child is not yet doing these things, you may consider Booklet 2 in the Make Play R.O.C.K. Series, Take Out the Toys, which helps you promote the functional play and joint attention skills that are necessary for learning to pretend.

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Elaine Weitzman and Lisa Drake