Are you having difficulty teaching your child with autism how to play games and interact with peers in social games?

Individuals with autism spectrum disorder typically have difficulty creating social relationships and learning appropriate behaviors for play activities. Besides having fun, there are many benefits to play, including teaching your child a lesson, social engagement, creating friendships, learning how to cooperate, and to expand imagination. Teaching games to a child with autism spectrum disorder, can be very challenging because prompting may need involved, it could be difficult to communicate the rules of each game, they may lose motivation, and they may have a hard time learning how to cooperate.

Keep in mind these strategies when helping a child play a game:

  • Positive Reinforcement– Try to use reinforcers as much as possible during games. Exaggerate facial expressions and body posture to make games more interactive and enjoyable. Establish method to keep score and allow the winner to receive a positive reward, like choosing the next game.
  • Chaining– The expected sequence of playing the game should be taught and reviewed so your child knows what to expect. For example, setting up the game, then rolling the dice, then finding your piece, moving your piece, and then cleaning up the game when it’s finished. This way, your child can learn the sequence of events and know what behavior is expected and when.
  • Modeling-Have your child observe others before playing the game, this way they can learn what is expected. That way, they are able to understand what to do before the social play activity so they do not fail socially and lose interest in the activity
  • Scripting- Games offer a good opportunity to help your child develop and increase communication skills. Scripts can be useful to help your child learn appropriate phrases during playtime.
  • Shaping– Encourage your child to try to be as independent in the game as possible. They may need extra help remembering the rules and could need a partner in the game before being independent.
  • Prompting– After observing others plays the game; your child may be ready to play but may need some prompts to remind them of what to do next. You can indirectly give them prompts, “what comes next?” or you can give them direct prompts “it’s time for you to roll the dice.” Prompts can also be non-verbal.