For most, play is a way to meet others; it comes naturally. For children with autism, play therapy is one way interaction can be fostered. Play therapy is one form of Autism Therapy used to incorporate the autistic child’s obsessions and interests to begin to slowly form social relationships and communication skills. For children who do not have Autism, the use of traditional play therapy occurs to investigate forms or mental illness, as well as traumatic situations.
In play therapy, the play therapist may provide the child with a choice of objects. The child may begin to ritualistically move the toy, as he would usually do. If the toy is a dog being moved back and forth, the therapist may have another dog jump at his. If in some form of communication, verbally or non-verbal, the child reacts, it is seen as beginning to develop a relationship – an interaction has happened. A relationship is begun through the acknowledgement of the actions of another, not just the child’s self-absorbed behavior.
Let’s say the child does not respond. It is then that the play therapist makes a shift to a totally different, very lively opportunity for the child. Items that do something, like those that make a sound, often work well. Over time through the back and forth interaction between the play therapist and the child grows, forms of communication not other wise developed are seen. With parents observing and then participating, growth with the child is fostered. Play therapy is often used in conjunction with other autism Treatments.