Autism and Play

This course is best suited to Parents and other caregivers, and to educators and therapists working with younger Autistic children. It is also of value to Autistic people of all ages seeking validation and better understanding of their own experiences and interests.

Investment includes certificate of completion, lifetime access and presentation slides.

Course Length 2hrs 30mins


Autistic Play

Play is often seen as the quintessential childhood activity, something that all children do. This has made play a prominent aspect of how Autistic children present – we hear about ‘inappropriate play’ and ‘parallel play,’ lack of interest in play and solitary play, how Autistic children ‘fail’ to engage in cooperative and competitive play, and so on.

Such concerns, however, rely on a one-dimensional smooth, linear concept of childhood development and of forms of play, and assume an ‘all else being equal’ context. Development is not linear, it stops and starts and changes pace (and direction), and for Autistics, ‘all else’ most definitely is not equal, thus confounding expectations and leading to misunderstandings of both the motivation and utility of Autistic patterns of play and development.

We will examine what play is for, how it works, and how differences in play observed in Autistics point to early-life obstacles, Autistic resourcefulness, and, viewing play as an aspect of overall development, how those differences reflect differences in the pattern and sequencing of development in Autistic children.

Play does not stop with the end of childhood, of course, and we will also consider how these same differences are reflected in the form play takes through adulthood.

This discussion will use an Extended Self model and the Opportunity-Ability-Inclination triad (OAI triad) to map out an understanding of Autistic play and it’s functionality, and make use of the Double Empathy Problem theory of communication as a key constraint and risk factor. What emerges is a surprisingly smart, adaptive and picture of human minds at work in a context of chronic adversity that describes and explains, but also points to opportunities for caregivers and educators to leverage their understanding to better support Autistics in their care.