What is Autism, and how can play therapy help?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a development disorder that impacts 1 out of every 54 children. It is a pervasive disorder that affects proper brain growth. It affects social skills, behavioural and communicative abilities, and physical and emotional connections. There are many ways to treat this health condition, but play-based autism therapy helps children the most.

Autism affects each child differently. It can be diagnosed in the early stage of childhood, around age 2 to 3. The sooner diagnosis of Autism and treatments can begin, the better and the long-term outcome.

People with ASD have unique strengths and challenges and need different treatments. Various methods and modalities can help in Autism. It can bring a wide range of severity and disabilities. Some have mild symptoms others may suffer from a significant disability.

Here is a brief discussion on play therapy and how it helps.  

What is Play therapy?

Play therapy provides people with coping abilities. Play becomes a way for kids to act out their feelings and find coping mechanisms. It is primarily a way used for children. Kids with Autism have difficulty processing their emotions or articulating problems to parents or other people. Herein a therapist can use playtime sessions to observe and diagnose the child’s problems.

How play therapy helps Autism?

Every child has repeatedly shown some techniques to enhance their emotional and social skills over time. Here are a few play therapies.  

  • Floortime:

In it, a therapist sits on the floor to play with the child and engage in the way the child wants. They introduce the kid to new terms, toys, and elements. This way, children become comfortable with the therapist and start conversations. The therapist aims to help them focus their thinking, improve their emotional skills, and build the child’s interests to form a relationship. Children who do 25 hours of floor time every week for at least two years show improved overall development per the research.

  • Joint attention symbolic play engagement and regulation (JASPER):

During this therapy season, kids learn how to pretend to play, speak more with their peers and expand their range of play with their toys. A therapist helps the child focus better on a toy and people. Children meet their therapist one-on-one. Over time they learn how to speak more with their peers, pretend to play, and expand their range of play with their toys. This session will continue up to 25 hours a week. 

  • Integrated play groups(IPGs):

In this play-based autism therapy, children with Autism and neurotypical children play together so that the latter can learn better social skills. Kids are divided into groups of 3 and 4 each, and the initial tone to play is set before letting the children take over. These sessions continue for up to four months, where children with Autism meet their therapist two times a week for about a half hour. Studies show that children who complete these sessions improve their ability to use their toys.


Play is central to the development of all children, and some children with ASD have issues that inhibit them from interacting easily. Therefore play-based therapy can help address anxiety, which often co-occurs in children with ASD. It can be an excellent opportunity to interact with kids and build on your relationship. Gradually, the kid will develop invaluable social skills.

Categories: Health

Nicolas Desjardins

Hello everyone, I am the main writer for SIND Canada. I've been writing articles for more than 12 years and I like sharing my knowledge. I'm currently writing for many websites and newspapers. I always keep myself very informed to give you the best information. All my years as a computer scientist made me become an incredible researcher. You can contact me on our forum or by email at [email protected].