A playground is a wide-open space and the rules for behavior and play are not posted and typically not directly taught. Some rules are communicated verbally, and some belong to the “hidden curriculum” of playground behavior. In other words the expectations are just “understood”. Social rules are typically understood by many children who are capable of observing the behaviors of others and learning expectations, but not by our children with autism.
All of these things make it very hard for a child with autism to be successful on a playground.
In fact, it’s not hard to visually see which children on the playground have social skill deficits. They are the children who don’t have others around them. They are the children who walk the perimeter or engage in an activity that others don’t want to join. Sound like someone you know?
My nephew, Noah, was having problems on the playground when he was in elementary school. He kept coming up to the teachers and asking if he could go down the slide or swing on the swings. He didn’t know what was allowed. He had a great deal of anxiety about recess. Noah actually tried to pull another student off the monkey bars because Noah thought he was the only one that could play on that equipment. He just didn’t understand the rules and expectations.
A solution? We put in a work system for the playground! Take a look at the video to see an example of how a playground work system works!
I can tell you that after we put the work system in place for Noah, he no longer had any trouble understanding what was expected during his time on the playground.
Think about it. Any area with wide-open spaces that is causing problems for your child with autism needs a work system. Ask yourself, “How can I make this space and experience better for my child?” Is your child having problems in P.E.? Music? The Library? Convocations? Now you have a solution!
If your child is having problems understanding what is expected in public places or even family gatherings, put together a visual work system and watch the transformation begin!!!
Would love to hear how this works for you in the comment section!!!
Take care and I’ll see you next time.