I hear a lot about how children with Autism “play” with toys.
Now, when I read about other kids – and indeed, when I watch the Monster with his toys – a lot of play involves making the wheels spin, or the like. It’s not what the toy was perhaps meant for, but it’s what entertains or fascinates them.
The Monster, as I mention frequently, likes electronic toys – specifically almost anything that makes noise.
A while back, the wife got him one of those old robot things that you insert a card in, and it wants you to play an educational game. She recently put batteries back into it, so it actually works, and tried to show him how to play with it.
Now, you can imagine the result, based on what I’ve mentioned about video games that he’s been playing with – he’s not as much interested in following directions and going through the activity properly as much as having it make noise when he wants it to make noise. And it’s a major frustration, since he’s not “playing right” with the toy…
To me, I suppose my major issue is more a question of what one’s trying to get out of his playing with anything in specific – if he’s more looking to be entertained, then I can’t really blame him for wanting to do what he wants to do with the thing. On the other hand, if we’re hoping he gets something useful out of it – if we’re hoping for him to learn something – then I think we probably need to be doing more guided play and sitting over him to keep him from getting frantic when we’re not doing what he wants.
The harder part to me is figuring out what best to do to get him to focus on doing things the way we want, when we’re not talking about his solely entertaining himself… those times where we do need him to actually follow directions, whether it’s given by us or by the toy. (Obviously, he can’t be under the 1-2-3 Magic regime his whole life. On the other hand, there’s times where I’d love to act-out and get put into time-out for thirty-plus minutes…) Occasional bribery is just fine by me, but again… there’s a limit to how long that works…