Temple Grandin Eustacia Cutler Autism Fund

The Temple Grandin
and Eustacia Cutler Autism Fund

Aspergers, Autism

Children with Autism and Imaginative Play

How do you teach young children with autism to “play?” 

The typically developing little boy pushes a block around the floor saying:  “Brooooom!”  He’s turned his block into a truck.  He picks up another block, waves it through the air making a humming sound. Now the block is a plane. This baby ability to make an object stand for something else is called “symbolic thinking.” It’s uniquely human; no other animal can do it.

We humans are born with it.

Those with autism are not born with it. Instead of playing “pretend” with their blocks, they’re apt to line them up. So it’s up to us to teach them this innate make-believe.  They may not get it perfectly, but if they can “sort of” get it they can play with other children, and life will open up for them.

 We’re social creatures, incomplete until we connect with each other.  And that includes those with autism.  So let me know what you do with your young children to help develop this skill.