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symbolic play lark

(15 Posts)
moleskin Mon 15-Oct-12 19:30:15

hi all ds (3.5) went to the pead yesterday and he was plonking a peg doll in and out of a dolls house. Not playing in the way my DD would have but just banging the doll really. Doc commented that he was showing good symbolic play, so wasnt showing signs of asd. Ds wasnt saying anything at the time when he was doing this and only carried this on for a few mins.

Just curious as I always thought that symbolic play was pretending one item was another - pillow on the head is a hat etc?. Which is what we have been trying to get him to do for a long time and he always says no mummy its a pillow smile

Pead is still concerned about issues but I was just wondering if a child interacts with a dolls house in any way does this rule out any form of social communication disorder straight off?
thanks

marchduck Mon 15-Oct-12 21:52:55

Hi moleskin, I start off by saying that I don't know much about this and hopefully someone more knowledgeable will be along soon.
My DD is 3.8 and is being assessed for ASD. One of the therapies she has had included working on her imaginative play. She could do somethings; like giving a doll a drink and brushing its hair, and putting food into the oven in the play kitchen. The therapist recorded these in her report but still ultimately described DD's imaginative play as very limited. The pead had a copy of this report before her last multi-disciplinary assessment - at which she referred her to ASD assessment clinic.
She got a dolls house for Christmas last year. She does play with it - but she completely ignores the dolls and the furniture. Instead, she put the little animals from her ark into the different rooms, pretty much in the same order. Then she takes them out and puts them back in again....

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Tue 16-Oct-12 00:39:45

Moleskin, that sounds more like your DS was using the dolls house as a cause and effect toy, opening and closing doors maybe and listening to the banging noise. It doesn't sound like symbolic play to me, which is using a toy block as a telephone etc. My DS, DXed with ASD at 3.6, loved pop up pets, shape sorters, ball in helterskelter type toys and would open and close the doors on the fire station all day and put the fireman in the engine, but would never pretend to put out a fire or rescue a cat!

I'd say it doesn't rule anything out on it's own, but the paed may have been observing different behaviours from your DS that we don't know about, that may have made her think it isn't ASD. It's hard to DX if a DC is borderline as at a young age a lot of difficulties can give similar 'symptoms.' If you are still concerned, and you do sound concerned, don't be fobbed off.

zzzzz Tue 16-Oct-12 04:57:17

I find the whole "appropriate" play thing difficult. It seems so open to interpretation. For example does having ASD mean you can't pretend at all? So can you act? Can you understand someone else is acting?

moleskin Tue 16-Oct-12 06:40:16

Very good point zzzz.
Yes he will also open and shut doors on toy kitchen! Food in food out in out in out. But doesn't do anything else iyswim

CwtchesAndCuddles Tue 16-Oct-12 08:30:25

My ds has asd he is now 5 and is very literal in his play - he will pretend to give a teddy a drink from a plastic cup but would not pretend to talk on the phone with anything other than a phone, my dd used to use a banana.

During messy play in school (special school) he wouldn't put his hands in the jelly but asked for a spoon. Jelly is for eating!!

coff33pot Tue 16-Oct-12 09:03:36

DS is 7 now and he has good imaginary skills and will use anything to represent something he wants ie. stick is a sword, games pieces could be food but when be was 2 till a out 5 he was less inclined to use a game for what it was bought for iyswim and would rather play with a bowl and spoon or my cupboard door and potatoes!

interesting that zzzzz mentioned about the acting as he always acts out role play games but they are games from films and not his own imagination so it is a different perspective again from what I put above.

I don't think you can make a decision like your pead has just based on a few mins play but I also wouldn't tie very child with asd to a specific form of play either.

moleskin Tue 16-Oct-12 10:01:29

cuddles yes this sounds like ds.
coff thank you very useful he will act out from films but not made up

Catsdontcare Tue 16-Oct-12 11:28:27

Ds is 4 and has ASD. He has always had good imaginative play AND symbolic play. He will pretend a banana is a sword or the chair is a dragons den etc. I find the whole play thing quite confusing too in terms of what it does or does not indicate

zzzzz Tue 16-Oct-12 12:00:38

I think it is to airy fairy to REALLY be any sort of concrete "evidence" towards dx. My son too can pretend and act but in no way does that rule out ASD for him.

The problem if your child has limited communication ( like mine whose language is so severely disordered) is that your play is by the nature of your verbal understanding, limited in both breadth and scope. Of course you like playing the same games again and again, because then you can join in. Of course you are phased by changes in script, because you are then swept into the world where you don't understand and can't keep up.

What I find tear jerkingly extraordinary is that my sons urge to play, to belong, to be part of it, is so strong that he has found a way to play in the group. [happy] sad

moleskin Tue 16-Oct-12 12:21:04

Play is an odd thing though isn't it? It's analysed soo much these days. When I was a kid I rarely played indoors at all. In all weathers I was out in the woods near my house with all the kids in the neighbourhood regardless of their SN or not up to mischief , trudging through the swamp, swinging from ropes and building dens! Everybody had a job to do and was involved. It's a sign of the times that kids don't seem to play like this now.

suburbandream Tue 16-Oct-12 18:06:31

The whole symbolic play/ imaginative play thing is really hard to understand. DS2 has aspergers and when he was diagnosed, I remember the paed telling us that he'd given DS2 a sponge and said it was a rock, but that DS2 had said "of course it's not, it's a sponge!" Fair enough, I would have done the same grin. Now, if the paed had said "pretend it's a sponge", DS2 would have been able to do it.
Also during the diagnosis DS1 (NT) and DS2 were playing in a seperate room from me and DH, being observed by the "experts". The paed kept on asking us if DS2 lined toys up, which he never ever has done. Funnily enough, when we all went into the room, all the toy animals were lined up perfectly by category, and the paed said "oh that's nice, who did that?" to which DS1 (NT!!) piped up proudly "that was ME!!" grin.

suburbandream Tue 16-Oct-12 18:09:27

I remember reading something that explained how ASD play can look like imaginative play when it isn't really IYSWIM. Like playing Thomas the Tank Engine but really just re-enacting an episode that has been seen on TV rather than making up your own stories.

moleskin Tue 16-Oct-12 19:11:57

That's funny!! Dd has an adhd dx but she enjoys lining things up and sorting things! She will pretend to play shops with ds but just spends ages lining all he teddys up!!! Ds likes lining up his trains but that's what they're for!! He prefers stacking!! Stacking wooden animals, fridge magnets anything that can be stacked will be!

Ds's trains don't talk to each other or interact with each they are placed veryyyy carefully in their correct positions smile

Jerbil Tue 16-Oct-12 21:22:11

DS1 had some imaginative play but limited. During ADOS with a psychologist where I was in the room, she got the toys out of the bag and he spent time with the spanner. he managed to get the car from one table to another in a way which was NT apparently. trying to pretend to brush his teeth, and he struggled. she then said pretend to wash your face then, and he couldn't. instead she said let me get some soap to help. so she got the soap out and he asked why she had it there!

he liked the pretend picnic, well some of it. and managed to pour me a 'drink'. but when she had a doll and said the doll was tired and tried to prompt him to care for it, there was nothing. My NT DS2 would have cuddled the baby, wrapped it etc.

ADOS with a psychiatrist (yes done it twice) his main play consisted of strangling the toys and killing them all.

he was 4 at the first and 6 at the second. both ADOS results would not have diagnosed him alone but it's not meant to be used as a sole diagnosis tool (I don't think).

the psychiatrist dx him with Aspergers. i learnt it's no good trying to second guess their markings and observations as you only drive yourself crazy. easier said than done though and i still do it!!!

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