#231 Be the Toy #4… Introducing Play with Simple Toys
The Podcast returns!! Join me today as we finish up our Be the Toy Series! In this final installment, we’ll discuss when to know you can begin introducing very simple toys in play with toddlers, signs that tell you to delay toys for a little longer, and then discuss the guidelines for selecting early toys to use with toddlers who are still struggling to connect and interact during play.
Signs to indicate a child with social delays is ready to include simple toys during play:
The child is easier to interact with during social games. You’ve seen some progress!
He looks at you and notices you during other activities and even from across the room. Toddlers with autism may find it easier to watch you from distances rather than face to face eye contact.
She’s staying with you for longer periods of time with less effort on your part.
The child shows you things or brings you toys to share.
He recognizes and participates in 10+ social games by doing “his part.”
Signs a toddler is NOT ready to include you during play with simple toys:
A child ignores or avoids you when toys are present.
He gets MAD or UPSET when you want to be included during play.
You’re still working pretty hard to engage a child even without toys.
She doesn’t look at you or use “visual check ins” more than you noticed previously.
He doesn’t “learn” or remember any social games. There are no smiles or signs of recognition when you play a familiar game with him. A child doesn’t have any games where he’s learned to “do his part.”
To listen to the previous episodes in this series:
Guidelines for Selecting Simple Toys for Early Play:
Pick toys where you can easily be seen and included. (No iPad games!)
Avoid items that cause a child to “stim” or create any kind of HUGE negative reaction because he can’t share the experience with another person yet.
Choose a toy that requires YOU in order to play! If he can activate with the toy alone, forget it!
Suggestions for Implementing These Guidelines Using Simple Toys:
1. Play with toys or objects he’s already paying attention to and change it just a bit. For example, if his bottle or sippy cup is on the floor, roll it to him. Hide the car he’s looking at in his shirt. If he sees a little ball or plastic animal, clasp it in your hand. Do anything to join what he’s doing! (Dr. Greenspan’s Floortime model teaches these strategies better than any other approach!)
2. Use household objects for play since these don’t demand the same level of attention from a child. For example, use a laundry basket for a game of “Row Row Your Boat.” Swing a child in a blanket or hide under the blanket for peek-a-boo. When he’s tired of that game, put him on top of the blanket and pull him through the house on the floor. If there’s an office chair that swivels, spin him around. For step by step directions for these kinds of games and household objects, check out my book Teach Me To Play WITH You.
3. Choose toys that require adult assistance such as:
Wind Up Toys
Launcher Toys – Hot wheels Motorcycle Sets or Rocket Launchers
Do everything you can to to join in the child’s play. If she only likes to knock down blocks, then stack them up for her to destroy. If he likes to roll his train on the tracks, playfully use your hand to block the train. Make it fun (not obnoxious or mean!) so that you’re still included!
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