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Do children with ASD ever develop imaginative play?

(24 Posts)
chopstheduck Mon 26-Oct-09 08:14:19

ds1 is awaiting referral to cahms. He has a lot of issues, but has recently started to do a sort of imaginative play. He has always loved cuddly toys, usually jsut lines them up and he likes the feel of them.

This weekend though 'Simples' the meerkat has been helping him build lego and other things! He is 7 and has never done anything like that before. He's still not really getting the imagination part, he'll only get 'simples' to do what he is doing, but it seems to be a start.

BobbingForPeachys Mon 26-Oct-09 08:19:38

It is a start,and a great leap forwards developmentally but its not necessarily imagination as they mean it.

Imagination in this context is using a toy as something different from its intention- wheras a Merrkat is eman to play alongsied IYSWIM

Things like when DS4 picks up a mega block and uses as a toy phone. Something none of the others have ever done.

chopstheduck Mon 26-Oct-09 08:28:50

That really helps explain it thank you!

Is it possible to encourage proper imaginative play, do you think? It'd probably confuse him though.

He seems to have a lot going on atm. He seems to be making progress in some ways, but general behavior is getting worse. He really does have problems with reality and make believe. He currently thinks he can fly and is not safe around traffic.

He is a bit of an enigma to me!

5inthetomb Mon 26-Oct-09 08:35:25

DS2 has some imaginitive play, but it is what he has been "taught" by DS1 who happily plays alongside him. Same conversation with same toys, toys pretend to speak to each other, always the same stuff.

Or he has saome Wall-e toys, and does a few lines from the film with them. All of it very scritped, not off the top of his head if that makes sense.

Goblinchild Mon 26-Oct-09 08:36:23

I posted something a while back on AS, this is an extract:
Difficulties with social imagination, imaginative play and flexible thinking.
This one causes some confusion as people say 'Well, he plays with his lego and makes up stories and has imagination, so...?'
It's the social aspect of imaginative play that can cause difficulties. If the child is in total control of their 'world' and setting the agenda, then they are being imaginative. AS children find it difficult to play when other individuals are involved that have different ideas or who don't perform as expected, unlike a lego or toy figure.

Mine is almost 15 now, highly imaginative and able to cope with a lot of stuff he couldn't before. The idea of participating in drama with others fills him with horror, although he can play a part if there is a script that they stick to.

BobbingForPeachys Mon 26-Oct-09 08:45:54

I'm going to a lecture on this by Hilary kanaris (if you google her quite a bit comes up,specialist ASD SLT who runs earlybird,does liaison work with charities etc) soon. Will see what she thinks re development- I know with my boys it would equate to crossing the ocean in a concrete suit LOL, but ther kids arent so affected by this aspect.

chopstheduck Mon 26-Oct-09 08:49:53

ds will follow a set line too, if dd makes up a play he will do xyz if she tells him to. He wouldn't think of it for himself though.

He likes lego but will build something, but won't animate it like the dts will.

He has never made up a story.

He's off to a stables activity this morning, which will be interesting! I've got some books here from cerebra, will have a read through while it is peaceful.

BobbingForPeachys Mon 26-Oct-09 08:50:38

GFC- that does vary hugely; as a child drama was about the only thing I really enjoyed at school and I was good at it, I know of a few other AS /ASD kids on here who like to perform. As with the rest of the spectum, the criteria only defines what counts as spectrum: the rest and the varying extents of how they interplay with other parts of the child define the person.

DS1 is very controlling with play and doesn't participate if he cannot direct how it goes, a key AS trait, but what an assessment looks for is both that and the abilty to use toys and objects differently rom how they are intentioned- the imaginative play bit.

sarah293 Mon 26-Oct-09 08:54:54

Message withdrawn

ouryve Mon 26-Oct-09 10:02:18

It does vary and it's one of those misconcenptions about ASD that it never happens. DS1 has always had imaginative play. At the time of his CHAT at about 20 months old, he was re-enacting crash scenes with his Thomas trains. DS2 (3.5), on the other hand, only started to show any real imaginative play a few months ago when he had his Upsy Daisy and Iggle Piggle toys walking round together and he was making noises and having them hugging and kissing.

ouryve Mon 26-Oct-09 10:10:39

Just to add that DS1's crashes were into mountains made from his lego Quadro! His scripts clearly came form episodes of Thomas he'd seen, but his props were very improvised!

These days, he's writing little stories. The plots are a little confusing and the dialogue somewhat stilted, but his loves to develop his characters and tell us all about them.

His social imagination is clearly lacking, though. He really can not put himself in someone else's shoes or predict the consequences of his actions.

cyberseraphim Mon 26-Oct-09 10:21:33

"Things like when DS4 picks up a mega block and uses as a toy phone. Something none of the others have ever done."

DS1 does this - turning boxes into boats and tables into tunnels for trains. I have always tended to see it as object substitution (seeing physical resemblance between object and his mental idea of a boat or whatever). But I think it is all positive and is likely to lead to higher level imagination in time.

logi Mon 26-Oct-09 13:17:48

My son is almost 6 and he can play things like pretending someones on the phone,little figures etc. this was one of the reasons at first(and because his speech was good) that they didnt think he was ASD but was dx after longer assessments.
The thing my son doesnt like to do is dress up or pretend to be someone else he gets quite upset at this.

mysonben Mon 26-Oct-09 15:59:24

My DS is nearly 4, up until recently he didn't show any sort of spontaneous imaginary play. We had the lining up and moving cars backwards and forwards, stacking up and sorting colours with bricks but no creative construction.
Now (the last 4 months or so) he has started to pretend his little people are talking but it's always the same phrases copied from his dvds, or total 'gibberish'. Still i see that as progress.
He does use toys like fire station,...and puts the firemen in and out of station and in the truck and makes siren noise, but doesn't pretend there's a fire somewhere and they're coming to the rescue.

I think my DS'imaginative play is developing but very slowly, it still is quite basic and limited for his age, IYSWIM.

Marne Mon 26-Oct-09 16:36:35

Dd1 5.6 (AS) has a huge imagination, she has imaginary friends, plays super hero's by herself and with others, flies to the moon in a cardboard box, talk on a toy phone etc.., her teacher at school said (last week at parents evening) that 'dd1 has a huge imagination and plays some great games at play time' (just a shame her class mates don't always want to join in).

Dd2 3.6 (ASD) is just starting to develop an imagination and will have a picnic with her teddy and talk on the toy phone, i'm sure she makes up little games by herself but she seems to speak in another language when doing it so i'm not sure what she is playing hmm.

They both love lego and playmobil.

mumslife Mon 26-Oct-09 17:26:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StarlightMcKenzie Mon 26-Oct-09 21:46:40

Message withdrawn

BobbingForPeachys Thu 29-Oct-09 08:53:31

DS3 was doing something when we were out yesterday that seemed positive possibly- he was popping his arms nbehind his back and then saying find my arms wher are they (in his talk,most people wouldnt have understood but it gets better as time passes). It was clear he couldn't see that we could see his arms IYSWIM. however,then he sort of wriggled with his arms tuckeed asflaps and I think he said 'I am an owl' but unfortuantely his speech wasn't clear enough to be more than 50% sure.... am going to try and grab it as a possible to work with though.

troutpout Thu 29-Oct-09 09:21:56

yes..ds has a great imagination too.
Peachy made a good point about using a toy as something different from what it is intended. This doesn't come easy to him at all...the figures he plays with may be given a character and a story but he rarely gives things a totally different purpose.
When he did his ados test, the salt made up this story with a paperclip (who was a farmer) and a piece of string (made a field) and a block (cow) and so on...she gave the same things to ds and asked him to make up a story. His was very detailed and very descriptive using imaginative language...but essentially it was about a paper clip escaping from the monterous block by sliding down the string. grin

It's that literal thing...he lacks the ability to see different outcomes to what he has in front of him.

debs40 Thu 29-Oct-09 09:37:07

This is an interesting one. DS will play with toy figures e.g. star wars and reenact stories. He will also build lego or play with toy knights but troutpout, in your example, he would be exactly the same.

When we had our first meeting with CAMHS, we went into a room with lots of toys and DS ignored everyone and went to the castle they had in the corner with lots of soldiers on it. He started lining them up for battle.

'How imaginative' said the CAMHS worker. hmm

Just from reading a few bits on the net and this board wink I can see there's more to social imagination than battling knights.

I do wonder about CAMHS - perhaps she went on a course once which told her autistic children don't have imagination

BobbingForPeachys Thu 29-Oct-09 11:18:25

Debs I think that many p[rofessionals don't get the imagination thing. Your bottom of [ile SENCO for example may have done (or even skipped- I know the local Uni find its the most skipped session) a single 3 hour session on sn. Now,many willl have topped that up but the base requirement is ridiculously low,and even a few courses won't do it.

Things like imagination and what that really entails is likely to be not coverd in enough depth.

There's also a problema ssessing imagination in kids with language issues. Yesterday's experience with ds3 was indicative of that.
basically, he is walking around cardiff ciry centre car park at 5pm with his arms behind his back shouting be an <<unclear word>>. It sounded like Owl.

I asked him 'Oh are you an Pwl?'
'No not opwl' <fierce glare>
Me persevering ashe wears earmuffs and there is background noide: 'DS3 is being a great owl there'
'Not Owl!'

Now, thining that through after 6 years experience of DS3 I can see three possible scenarios:

1. He wasn't being an owl and I didn't understand his language. He is phonologically unclear due to scarring and general SLT issues so happens very often.

2. I phrased it completely wrong- DS3 is extremely literal, of clourse he wasn't an owl! He can get very upset iof you suggest he is anything (in play) other than ds3 becuase plainly he is not. 'Is ds3 pretending to be an owl?' may have been better, but sometimes you just want to get back to the car LOL.

3. He couldn't hear or process what I was asking him due to the repsence of an awful lot of sensory information about at that moment.

My generale xperience of kids like my boys is that very literal language can indicate a rpesence of very limited imagination generally, but am no researcher so can only suggest that, not evidence it.

I am also aware that as I personally don't have much abstract imagination, it could be that I never taught it very well. Or that becuase my Mum has very limited imaginative play (see the link LOL....) she never ytaught it...... how can anyone know for sure?

Today we have a barn out on the floor,with a few cows out and also cars and dinosaurs to replace the missing farm animals. DS4 seemed happy with that but none of the toehrswereinterested, so ds4 lost interest also quite quickly, ds1 and ds3 never were bothered but ds2 is not asd..... is that a learned thing, is it because he just thinks it is uncool now, or becuase he knows full wellfarmers do not farm small hybrid t-rex / motorbike toys? Who knows!

So what

debs40 Thu 29-Oct-09 12:40:39

Really interesting post BoobbingforPeachys. That is what worries me about these types of issues. Without the requisite knowledge and expertise of both the topic and the child in question, it is really hard for people like SENCOs to pick this sort of thing up.

Just as it is with communication. My son will sit and listen in a group and then go to his table and do what he's asked to do. But if you asked him 'why are you doing that?' or 'what have you been asked to do?' he would look blankly at you. He is copying the group. I saw this myself when I was in school for a day for a trip out.

So teachers will say, they have imagination and can follow instructions etc etc without noticing these vital deficits in communication and imagination which can really affect their learning and play.

debs40 Thu 29-Oct-09 12:41:31

OOOoo I say, that should read 'Bobbing' not Boobbing'!!

BobbingForPeachys Thu 29-Oct-09 13:48:21

Boobing is OK, still BF'ing ds4 so in fact, accurate LOL wink

It is adifficult thing, the understanding of ASD. The Uni I attend has a big school of education, and started out as a teacher training institution. The man who was our lead at teh start of the year (retired at week two LOL) said that the courses scheduled half a day for SN, most students woulod skip and that it wasn't necessarily taught by people who knew that much. GPs on the toehr ahnd get 30 minutes but soem medical training Uni's are ditching that toprioritise more important areas. ridculous!

The Government coulod save a fortune with a bit of joined up thinking- educated educationa professionals means less statementing and remidialwork needed, less kids needing SNU places...... I do beleive this Governments wants the system to be good but there is a massive lack of joined up action. Supporting carers = less family break up = less financial strain short term with benefits / housing etc = less long term financial problems with kids from struggling backgrounds = more kids and aprents working paying taxes........ you can turn most areas of need into a cash positive when properly reosurced at step onoe, but becuase everybody is fighting for small interdepartmental budgets then nobody cares beyond their own paperclip expenditure.

Sorry, rant blush

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