Parents often ask us how to increase interaction and engagement with their child. We know that sometimes our children with autism play in ways that we may not understand. That’s okay! Here are some tips to help engage with your child by following their lead and imitating their play.

In order to help our child be interested in us, we first need to be interested in them. That means before we try to change play, we can try playing the way our child plays.

This can be difficult at first, but very rewarding for both our child and us as the play becomes more fun and less work.

What does this look like? Basically your child is Simon Says. We imitate how our child is playing, exactly the way they are playing. If a child flips the pages of a book, we flip the pages of a book. If a child taps their fingers or bangs their hands on a ball, we tap our fingers or bang our hands on a ball next to them. If a child shakes a toy in the air, we shake another toy next to them in the air.

You want to imagine that you are a mirror and imitate your child’s actions.

Note, make sure that you have your own book, ball, or toy to play with. You do not want to take your child’s toy away from them to share the toy. You should have your own version of the toy that they are playing with so that you can imitate their play.

When we follow a child’s lead we give them the power to choose how to play‍! This can lead to natural eye contact, smiles and anticipation to see if we will keep imitating.

This can be hard at first, but keep trying! Imitating your child and following their lead can be a powerful way to connect with your child through play.

To see some examples of what it looks like to engage with your child by imitating their play, check out @mebefamily on Instagram and click on the MeBe Playin’ story highlights and visit the MeBe Family YouTube channel.

We specialize in working with children with autism and believe that evidence-based therapies and cross-discipline collaboration can change lives. Learn more about our approach and contact us for more information.