Risk Alerts Pretend Play
Dr. Deborah Fein explains that pretend play is an important way that children learn about the world and also socialize with others.
"Certainly, by 18 months you should be starting to see glimmers of pretend play...basic imitation is much earlier. You don't pretend until you can imitate. "
— Deborah Fein PhD
Early Warning Signs related to Risk Alerts Pretend Play
In this clip, an examiner prompts two children, one typically developing (Cassidy) and one on the spectrum (Tommy), to use imitation and imaginative play. Dr. Christopher Smith compares the different levels of imaginative play demonstrated by Cassidy to Tommy's limited response and engagement in the task.
Lack of interest in pretend play is a possible sign of autism. In this observation, Connor Puleo assesses Ryan's ability to imitate and engage in basic pretend play. Though Ryan imitates Connor's actions, he does not elaborate on this imitation or appear interested in pretending.
At a young age, typically developing children learn the concept of representation, wherein one object is used as a place holder for another. Representation is an essential building block of pretend play that children with autism often fail to grasp. Pretend play is also an important form of social interaction for children that incorporates cognitive skills, social thinking, creativity and flexibility, all of which may be delayed in a child with autism. In this segment, Dr. Soorya contrasts examples of both a typically developing child and a child with autism; pretending to throw a birthday party to demonstrate the differences between the two childen.
Therapies related to Risk Alerts Pretend Play
In this video the speech therapist is playing house with Leighdionne. She uses the pretend game to not only teach and encourage her to speak certain words, but also to engage in and understand appropriate pretend play.
Benjamin engages with his mother in a game of stop and go with his toy train. A short time later, Benjamin is able to generalize the skills he learned while playing with his mother to recreate the game himself with an entirely new object. This natural progression toward pretend play is often absent in children with ASD.
Alison, mother of Gabriel and Nathan, describes each boy's progress in therapy as well as their current interventions through their public school. Gabriel and Nathan's school based interventions are paired with their mother's description of their therapy goals and the notable progress they each have made since beginning treatment at 18 months old.
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