Put Pretending into Your Child’s Play

Building Pretend Play for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Social Communication Difficulties

Put Pretending into Your Child’s Play is the third booklet in the Make Play R.O.C.K. booklet series for parents of young autistic children.

This booklet focuses on helping parents expand their child’s pretend play skills during fun, everyday play activities. Children with social communication difficulties often find it challenging to pretend, so adults must take some extra steps to provide them with the opportunities and encouragement they need to learn.

Why Is Pretend Play Important?

Pretend play is a critical part of all children’s development, and is closely tied to:

  • Language skills
  • Social skills
  • Emotional skills

For autistic children in particular, studies have shown that:

  • better pretend play skills at age three and four are associated with better language skills at ages eight and nine.
  • the more varied and flexible a young child’s pretend play, the more advanced his thinking skills are at ages eight and nine

How Put Pretending into Your Child’s Play Helps

Your child’s play may not be as complex or creative as that of typically developing children. But when you add specific interaction strategies to your everyday play activities, there’s a lot you can do build his skills.

Put Pretending into Your Child’s Play helps you:

  • Understand how the development of pretend play fosters your child’s language, social and emotional skills
  • Identify your child’s stage of pretend play and his next step in pretend play development
  • Use research-based strategies to encourage your child to imitate new pretend play actions and move to the next stage in pretend play
  • Help your child apply newly learned pretend play skills with a variety of toys and in a variety of situations

What’s Inside

Booklet highlights include:

  • A checklist for identifying your child’s current stage of pretend play and the next step he can take
  • Guidelines on the best toys to use and how to use them to encourage your child’s development
  • Concrete examples and illustrations of parents using the strategies in the booklet to build their child’s play skills
  • A Pretend Play Plan to help you plan your child’s next play step and how you’ll help him take it


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