Play Therapy is accessible to children of varying abilities, including those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), neurological, learning physical or sensory impairments. Play therapy is suitable for children who are non-verbal, verbally delayed or struggle to put their feelings into words, as play does not require speech.
Play therapy can help children improve in the following areas:
Social interaction and competence
Cooperating and negotiating with others
Play therapy can also help children address emotional issues such as anxiety.
How can play therapy help?
Children with ASD often struggle with social communication and interaction. These difficulties often make these children feel isolated from their peers and left feeling lonely. In Play Therapy, children are able to communicate in a way in which they feel most comfortable, often non-verbally. Through this safety and freedom of communicating children can engage with the clinician in their own unique way, working out what is effective and not. This improved communication can then extend to their home and school environment.
Children with ASD can have difficulty empathizing and understanding the situations of others. Play Therapy helps children have the opportunity to experience empathy within the play therapy relationship and grow in their ability to empathise with others.
Managing emotion is hard for lots of children, especially those with ASD. Helping children regulate emotion is a key element of Play Therapy. Through firm but gentle limit setting and returning responsibility, children have the opportunity to increase their ability to manage emotion.
Often children with ASD are involved in much needed behaviour modification programs. Often, the unintended side effect is that children learn there is something wrong with them that needs “fixing”. Play Therapy embraces a child’s “right to be different” as the clinician completing accepts the child as they are.
Play Therapy can help address anxiety, which often co-occurs in children with ASD.