Play therapy for autism is an effective and the best intervention essential in managing the development of the brain. It helps both verbal and non-verbal children to understand the feelings and the body language of others. Depending on each child’s requirements, a play therapist guides the child using certain methods to help them cope with their problems.
Therapeutic play sessions are normally done in a safe and comfortable room. The therapist encourages free expression and allows children to indulge in their play choice and decisions. This helps the child to express their feelings healthily (without throwing tantrums), and also discover new and more confident ways to solve their problems.
Why Is Play Therapy Involved?
Play therapy helps children with special needs to socialize and communicate better and also to overcome their emotional deficits. Play therapy for autism can help children with learning disabilities, anxiety, grief, aggressiveness and academic problems. It also helps children on the autism spectrum to overcome attention deficit.
Play Therapy Techniques
Play therapy for autism is done individually or in groups. It can be termed as either directive or nondirective therapy. In a directive play therapy approach, the therapist controls the sessions. He/she uses instructions and involves specific toys or games techniques to help speed up better results.
In a nondirective approach, children are also given the freedom to choose toys and games. They are allowed to play under certain rules and instructions. Thus, in nondirective play therapy, the therapist allows the children to lead the way.
The therapist may use one or both methods depending on the situation. A play therapist uses creative activities (painting, blocks) and games (puzzles, worksheets). He/she observes how the child uses these activities to communicate and express feelings.
The therapy sessions take place in a safe and pleasant environment where the child feels safe. The therapist may involve techniques that may include:
- Creative visualization
- Puppets and masks
- Dolls or favourite animal figures
- Craft or paint
- Musical play
Benefits of Play Therapy For Autism
A trained therapist uses toys and activities during the sessions to note down the areas in which the child needs improvement. They help the child to deal with unresolved trauma through play strategies that include solitary play and cooperative play. Some children start-off with some hesitation, but as they gain the trust of the therapist, they tend to develop a bond. They become more comfortable, creative and more verbal in their play.
Some of the prominent benefits of play therapy for autism include:
- Develop more responsibility for certain behaviours
- Develop strategies and problem-solving skills
- Gain self-confidence
- Develop a sense of feeling and empathy for others
- Improve social skills
- Learn to understand the sign and body language
- Express their feelings
- Enjoy stronger family relationships
Play therapy also improves fine and gross motor skills in children with autism.
Play therapy for autism comprises various types of play tactics to deal with psychological issues in children. To get most out of the therapy, it is done along with other therapies. It is advisable to appoint an experienced play therapist to help children gain essential skills in a playful way.