Toys - can you teach kids how to play? — The Bump
Special Needs

Toys - can you teach kids how to play?

Chris got several cars for Christmas but he has ZERO interest in them.  In fact the only thing he showed any interest were a set of sensory balls his baby brother got.  We feel kind of bad and I'm wondering if there's any way to encourage him to play with certain kinds of toys?  Any ideas?


Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers


Re: Toys - can you teach kids how to play?

  • We struggle with this too. For months and months when DS was first diagnosed (19 months) his EI therapist would sit with him with a toy man and say "walk walk walk". Over and over and over. Finally after like 6 months DS would imitate her, but it was so obvious that he was just copying her- he clearly doesn't see the "fun" in this activity.

    From 2-3 I almost gave up toys altogether. He played with his baby activity table for a long time (cause and effect stuff- push a button, it plays music). I finally boxed up all his baby toys at age 4 and tried to start over. Like auntie pointed out, I used his special interest to lure him into toys. He loves lights, water, hoses, sprinklers. So I found a fire truck with a working water hose and flashing lights. He has lots of fun putting fires out on the cat. Last summer we built him a sandbox, which he largely ignores, but he does like building swimming pools and other water features in it. I try to incorporate dump trucks, etc, even if they're just hauling water.

    We've had a minor breakthrough this year (he's nearing age 5)- he likes Batman and Spiderman. So for Christmas he got the whole setup with all the accessories and although Christmas was just a few days ago- he still likes playing with it! His play skills are a bit rusty (e.g. he likes to lock batman up in his own jail), but it's progress. Also his Grandma got him this pretty cool car track set that glows in the dark with LED lights- again incorporating something he already likes.

    As a female who was never interested in superheros, I find it really difficult to come up with imaginative scenarios to play out with him! To this end, we've been compiling a large mass of easy reader Batman and Spiderman books to help with play scenarios. DS likes to act out something he saw in a book- it's easier for him (and me!) to conceptualize.

  • OP - Thank you for posting this! This question was on my mind and I didn't know how to phrase it.

    DD is an "in and out" and an organizer. She hands things to me when we "play" and then puts them back, that is about it. I feel lucky to have peek-a-boo. She will "drive" a car but only in immitation and goes more for the cause and effect toys - music/piano/keyboard.....and lightswitches.


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  • Some good books to check out: 

    Julia Moor's Playing, Laughing and Learning with Children on the Autism Spectrum: A Practical Resource of Play Ideas for Parents and Caregivers (personal favorite)

    Sue Schwartz's The New Language of Toys: Teaching Communication Skills to Children with Special Needs (toy and book recommendations broken down by age with sample dialogues to get you started)

    Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
    11/10/10 The Kid
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